Building team culture is one of those things that is much easier said than done. To add to this, most team's have gone partially or even fully remote nowadays and building a remote team culture is another beast altogether. With that being said, team culture is one of the single most important things you can focus on as a company founder or executive. There's a lot of advice out there on how to build an effective team culture, but not so much advice that is actionable. So... what are some real things you can implement/do today to build your team's culture into a lasting cornerstone of your company?
- Get a baseline... send out an eNPS survey
An eNPS (employee net promoter score) tells you how likely your employees are to recommend your company as a great place to work. Employees rate your company on a scale of 0 to 10. Anyone rating you a 9 or a 10 is a "promoter". 7s and 8s are passive, anything 6 and below is well... a detractor (these are your employees who are not happy at all with your company and you should take note to listen to their feedback, because although it may not be one hundred percent true, it's their perception of your business that means everything).
An easy way to get started with an NPS is by using a Google Form or a tool like Delighted to sent the actual survey out. Free templates with the sorts of questions you can ask are online too. Once you run the actual survey, make sure to keep the results anonymous, and never call anyone out or speak with them directly about their feedback as it's important to keep your employee's trust intact. You can also structure the feedback by department so that you have an idea of which areas of your business need the most improvement in terms of culture. Again, you're shooting for a 9 or 10!
2. Encourage communication... start a water cooler
One of the absolute hardest things to do in a remote culture is make quality time for non-essential communication. You know... the proverbial "water cooler" conversations where you get all the latest company gossip, learn more about your co-workers than you probably wanted to, etc. An easy way to recreate this is by installing an app into your internal communication tools to do it for you. If you use Slack, CultureBot is a solution we've made to address this need. You simply choose the topics you want to stir up conversation, the days of the week and time of day to send the messages, and that's it. Just make sure that when the message posts, you have at least a few people responding to them. We've found that there tends to be a "critical mass" of responses to get the desired effect of the "water cooler".
3. Promote health & wellness – team challenge & bonus
There are a couple things you can do right out of the gate to easily improve your team's desire and ability to lead healthier (and as a result, more productive) lives.
The first is by actually sending them ideas on how to do that. The same bot mentioned above provides an easy way to send a weekly health tip to your team. This could be anything from drinking more water everyday to suggestions around work/life balance.
The second idea here is actually quite transformational if implemented right. Setup a health challenge for your team. Send around a spreadsheet for your employees to sign up with their health/fitness goals. Promote the idea of actually hitting these goals by providing a one-month's bonus to anyone who is able to prove they hit their goal by the 12-month mark. This is an easy way to show that you (as management) care about your people so much that you're willing to literally pay them to become healthier.
4. Make people feel appreciated... start an employee lottery
Who doesn't enjoy free things? Everyone enjoys a little surprise every once in a while. Employees also love feeling appreciated. One thing you can do to check both of these boxes at the same time is setup an employee lottery. This could be anything from free sway to a day off of work. Choose the employees (it could easily be everyone, just not somebody who has won the lottery recently) you want to participate in the drawing, and do a drawing once a week (or month – every quarter is a bit too long to wait).
5. Mix it up – make work fun with games
Work days can be tough, and work weeks can be long. Give your team a bit of a break on a weekly or even daily basis by introducing real-time games. This can take the shape of a trivia game you all get on a quick 15-minute zoom call to do at the same time, or (if you're afraid your team is too spread around timezone-wise) you can do it async by having a running tally of the score. Bored is a great app to run trivia with your team inside Slack.
Another game that our team loves to play that does well across many timezones is Geoguessr. The games essentially drops you in a random place on this Earth inside of Google Maps and expects you to guess where you have been dropped. It's been hands down the most fun we've had together as a team when we play it. To make it work across multiple teams and timezones, setup 1-hr sessions for teams within a few hours of each other. Have them pick a map or two. Keep their score at the end of the game. Have the other 1-hr sessions for your other teams play using the same map. At the end, compare scores and announce the winner on a public channel! We like to offer a $25 or $50 Amazon gift card (most everyone across the world can use it) to each individual winner on the winning team. There are tons of maps to choose from, so this game really never gets old.
6. Make it human... schedule some face time
Depending on budget, locations, etc. – your team may or may not be able to make this happen, but if you are able to make it viable – know that it's 110% worth it. With remote work burning out so many workers nowadays, here are a few things you can do to get the band together:
- If you have co-located workers in a certain location, allow them to either expense a co-working space by the day, or if folks want to come into the office enough, purchase a more flexible pass that allows for more than 1 day of office use per week. We've found that lots of co-working spaces are actually becoming more and more flexible with their business models, given the state of the work in this day and age.
- If your team members don't want to get together because they feel more productive at home, that's totally OK. Another option here is to find a local networking event to attend together. This is an excuse for them to end their day a tad early, to get outside and meet new people, and say hello to co-workers all at the same time. For example, the Upstream app has some awesome networking events in some of the major cities around the US.
- If you have workers mostly located in the same country, organize a quarterly offsite. This is a central location that all your employees can come to for a long weekend of team building activities and events. It's up to you on the where and what you do, just be aware that although the cost is usually high for these sorts of things (travel, food, and lodging add up) – you're not spending on an office nearly what you used to and that budget is there for a reason. Don't axe it completely out without thinking twice.
Although not an exhaustive list, with the above tips you are well on your way to improving your team's remote culture. Don't feel the need to have to implement everything wholesale all at once – you can take your time to slowly build up a series of events, policies, and acts that make your employees feel supported, appreciated, and excited about working for your company.
By no means are we the authority on all things remote team culture – what do you do to promote a healthy and strong culture? We'd love to hear it. Add a comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
😁 Stay happy & healthy,