Remote Teams & Company Culture: Level UP and Beyond

Konstantinos Anastasiadis @ SCALEUP | November 13, 2020

What is Company Culture? Is it the neon lights, the free beer rounds before the weekend or the office foosball table?Well, by far none of the above, company culture is the description of the traits and behaviors that people have in an organization of any level.

In today’s Covid-19 world, a new specialized section about remote work and company culture is easily becoming more and more in-demand (Forbes, 2020). People are working from home, and with the spikes of the pandemic on the rise their return to their workplace is not around the corner at least for the near future. Let’s explore the processes, mindset and tools behind establishing your team in a remote environment.

#1. Foundation of Trust & Psychological Safety

According to the Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson, psychological safety, is defined as “ sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for speaking up.” The rewards of fostering psychological safety are quite high (HBR, 2017). The big questions is how in the remote setup can today’s organizations inspire and establish such behaviors.

Direction from the Leaders - Behavioral
Leaders, ask for feedback from remote employees often via all-hands meetings, smaller “town halls,” or via surveys or 1:1s. Ask your teams to do the same with each other.

Teach Constructive Feedback - Structural
Ensure feedback is given through video calls so employees can be clear and any misunderstandings can be avoided.

#2. Establish regular rituals

For this to work, establish recurring team meetings that give a pace for the projects. At ScaleUP a big part of our teams from different locations is Agile and often practices sprint planning, retrospectives as well as backlog grooming for projects. Despite the discipline and the department of your team, it is key to establish quick huddles that clear & clean goals and roadmaps are communicated.

#3. Prioritize meaningful work

In remote teams, it’s essential people are in control of their time, that they are both able to respond to immediate requests and issues that come up but also to commit and continue building to their long term projects. There needs to be a common agreement, time blocks on calendar, slack status or even full weekdays with no meetings.

#4. Find creative ways to keep people engaged

Keeping up with your team's engagement levels is key to both their productivity but also their own well being. A low-cost & easy to deploy solution, are “virtual” team meetings where people from the same department huddle and discuss their challenges, share insights and thoughts. Empathy and community are crucial to sustain and keep those engagement metrics on high levels.

#5. Collect Feedback & Adjust

Ask each remote employee to pay close attention to the process and tell you what worked and what didn’t. This will allow you to continuously improve the process for your future hires. You don’t need to stop gathering criticism after employees are fully onboarded. Set the expectation of regular feedback. Ask for it often, reflect on your efforts, listen to your employees, and make adjustments as needed

Softwares such as Miro, Google Forms or even a quick slack message sessions can leverage the much needed feedback and set your remote team to the course for success!