When you spend 40 or 50 hours per week together with your co-workers in an office, it’s easy to bond and build chemistry. It just happens naturally. But when you’re running an online business with remote workers, it’s not quite as effortless. The need for fostering healthy relationships still exists, though – so what’s your plan?
Try These 5 Tips for Building Remote Team Chemistry
Trying to get your team to bond when they’re rarely (if ever) together in person isn’t easy. In fact, it presents a number of unique challenges that can’t be ignored. But if you implement the following tips, you’ll find that promoting team chemistry is easier than you anticipated.
Hire the Right People
Not every individual has the soft skills needed to be on a remote team. They may be talented, but can they thrive in a virtual setting? The first thing to do is create a hiring policy through which you analyze all hires. If they don’t meet your criteria, then they shouldn’t be considered for the job.
Take Vyopta, which was recently named one of Austin, Texas’ top workplaces, as an example. They believe, “The best teams are made up of individuals with complementary and extraordinary skills. We hire talented people and encourage them to develop remarkable skills. Get ‘1% better’ every day.” You need to take a similar approach when hiring for your remote team. What factors do you believe define “the best teams?”
Make Time for Water Cooler Talk
Formal team bonding is fine, but most chemistry is built naturally. There’s a reason the “water cooler” has a reputation as being a place for gossip and conversation in a physical workplace.
You should be on the lookout for ways you can create a virtual “water cooler.” Maybe it’s a Slack conversation or social media group. Perhaps it’s a group chat or email thread. Whatever the case may be, you need some platform where natural – non work-related – conversations are encouraged.
Try Meeting in Person (Occasionally)
If at all possible, try getting your virtual team together in person at least once a year. Allowing people to meet face-to-face and spend time together will bring team chemistry to an entirely new level. Try gathering at an industry conference or another event to make it feel more natural.
Form One-on-One Teams
It’s sometimes hard for people to get to know each other in large group settings – especially if they’re virtual. Introverts tend to lay low, while a couple of extroverts zap up all of the attention. In order to make sure everyone’s voice is heard – and that each individual feels included – form different one-on-one teams for specific projects. This level of interactivity will help your team members get to know one another on a more personal basis.
Encourage Social Networking
It’s one thing to know what a coworker does with the company. It’s another to know what he’s up to in his personal life. Encourage members of your remote team to follow each other on social media. This gives everyone a chance to see what people are up to when they’re not at work. It also provides fodder for conversation and shared experiences.
Learn As You Go
The idea of having totally remote teams that are functional and highly productive is something that’s still relatively new. It didn’t exist 15 or 20 years ago – and certainly not 25 or 30 years ago. So as you work on building team chemistry with your remote team, take a learn-as-you-go approach. Try new things, eliminate the strategies that don’t work, and implement new techniques as you see fit. The challenges are there, but they’re definitely surmountable.