How To Build Team Camaraderie Remotely
What do you do when the whole world seems to have gone remote?? How do you keep up a great culture and continue to foster growth in your team members and a solid camaraderie among them?
Almost every single company on the planet has now been affected by remote work in one way or another. What a crazy day and age that we live in. I think we all saw this as a far-off potential, but nobody was able to see just how much and how quickly we would all be affected by this whole remote work thing.
If company culture and team camaraderie are of any importance to you, this newfangled idea of how we do business can be a very complicated road to navigate.
I am hoping to provide some insights here from just five of the many ideas that we have implemented at our own company, Lemonade Stand, to make sure that our team members from all over the country still feel like they are loved and it’s as if we were all working right alongside each other in the office anyway.
Team member recognition is going to have a massive impact on the way people feel about your company and about your company management/other team members that they work with.
You need to make sure that people feel that the work they are contributing is worth something to you and your team. Working from home day in and day out can become very mundane, and it can get very tiring quickly if all you do each day is log on to your computer, get through the work that is assigned to you, and then log off for the day without interacting with anyone or being thanked by anyone at all.
Say thank you!
Recognition doesn’t have to mean sending people cash bonuses. While those can be nice, that’s not always what people are hoping for. In fact, in some cases, people might prefer to just hear a sincere word of gratitude and appreciation coming from their company than to receive a gift card. Saying thank you can go a long way.
Don’t get me wrong, though, we definitely believe in rewarding and recognizing people through little spot bonuses or awards here and there. I would be completely in the wrong to say that this isn’t an important aspect of employee recognition – it’s just not the only possible way to provide recognition.
These are all great and can help you in providing that necessary recognition to your team members no matter where they are working from!
At Lemonade Stand, we use Motivosity. It has been amazing for us! Motivosity provides a platform where you can provide all of your employees with a bit of cash that they can use to say thank you to other team members who have helped them out with something. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but saying thank you as well as sending your coworker a buck or two can be pretty dang fun. Plus, it spreads out the recognition so that people are being thanked by everyone around them! Our entire team uses Motivosity almost daily, and it is so so fun, engaging, and rewarding! You can also just send a “thank you” or send out a company “highlight” about someone who went above and beyond for you without any monetary attachment. This platform allows you to do both, which has been awesome for us! We love Motivosity, and I would definitely recommend using a platform like this to help with your recognition.
Team-wide Check ins
Another thing that you should be doing regularly are team-wide check ins. We still have a smaller team (around 40 people), so the way that we do this might not always work for your company if you are much larger than we are, but the idea can be altered to fit your way of managing your people.
Each morning, and each afternoon, we hop on a quick Zoom call (15 minutes) to check in with our team. Everyone in the company is on these calls, and we go through all of the outstanding tasks that we need to complete that day and make sure that everyone is on the same page with everything. Once the work has been reviewed and that business is taken care of, we just check in on everyone. We chat and joke around and make sure that people are doing ok. Oftentimes, people will end up sticking around for a few more minutes after we get through what we needed to just to hangout. We share stories and poke lighthearted fun at each other. It’s a great time where we are all able to still feel like we work with other human beings. These little check ins have been invaluable to our team, and they are just a small and cost-effective way that we have been able to keep up our company culture.
Make Sure Everyone is on a Team
Nobody should be left alone forever to just do the work that is piling up before them.
Make sure that each and every person in your company has a team that they know they can rely on and collaborate with or at least another person, or multiple people, within the company with whom they know they can always turn to with questions or needs.
Do not let people feel like they are isolated from everyone else if they are isolated geographically. We all need to lean on each other from time to time, and it is imperative that you know who you can lean on during those times.
It’s also good for them just to know that they have someone who they can talk to. Nothing is more isolating than feeling like you can’t reach out to someone just because you need to chat with them or ask them a question about something.
Make your company events “remote inclusive.”
I understand that this cannot happen for all events. If you’re taking the team out to dinner with their families, you can’t exactly make the restaurant a remote environment where you can just Zoom everyone in over a video call. Completely understandable that sometimes things that are done in person just have to be done in person. That’s a reality that anyone taking a remote job will need to accept to some degree.
However, it is certainly possible to make some of your major company events remotely accessible, or at least to include a remote portion of those events. For example, holiday or end-of-year parties are a major event that most companies have each and every year. Try making it a virtual party this year! I know, I know – that does not sound quite as enjoyable as an in-person event; however, this all depends on what you do and how you do it. Our holiday party in 2021 was completely virtual…
…and it was AMAZING!
We had SO much fun together as a team even in a virtual party. There are tons of things that you can do to make this fun, but this is what we did.
First off, using Motivosity, we sent everyone some funds to buy dinner for them and their families. Everyone got to pick whatever they wanted, and we were able to provide a nice meal for everyone as you most likely would in an in-person party.
We then had an ugly-sweater contest. No holiday party can be complete without one, right? We think so. So we made sure that we had one. Was this difficult to do remotely? Not in the slightest! Everyone had their videos turned on and came dressed in their most hideous attire (trust me.. We had some bad ones), and then we had a poll that was sent out with a few categories that people could vote for and sent out some gifts to the winners of that contest. Super fun!
After this, we gave people some down time to eat their dinner and just relax. We had an inspirational message of gratitude from our company leadership. Our choice was to film this beforehand and make it into an awesome video that we played, but you could also just do a live speech or allow each of your executives to take a few minutes to share some thoughts or feelings that they had throughout the year. It was awesome to hear from some of our amazing leaders!
Finally, we played a variation of a white elephant game that our founder, Greg Trimble, invented himself. It’s called Santa Wars, and it’s pretty freaking awesome. Honestly, I don’t know how this game hasn’t taken the world by storm, but I guess people just haven’t seen the vision yet. Anyway, it was set up in a way that we could do a screen share and play it sort of game-show style. It was loads of fun and everyone walked away with some kind of cool gift from the company.
It can be done! Of course, you can always do two events. Maybe you take your local team out to dinner and then have a virtual party like the one I just described. Nothing wrong with doing that, but I would strongly suggest that you do not just assume your remote workers will be fine not being included in a big, end-of-year event like this. Let them in on the fun – even if it takes some effort. If it requires effort, then they will know that you really care about them, and this will continue to build up trust and camaraderie.
Set Them up for Success
As a final thought – set your team up for success!
Whatever you would do for someone who works directly in your office or locally around you, make sure that you are doing those same things for people who are fully remote. If you’re willing to buy a good desk and chair for anyone in your office, let your remote team know that they have the option to have that provided for them as well if they do not have a good office set up at home.
They should not be excluded from company benefits or perks just because they are remote. Some things might have to just stay in the office, and that is completely ok, but whenever possible, provide the same level of care and love for your remote team members that you would to your local team. They should feel like they are just another team member – not any different just because they are remote.
Don’t forget about them! Nothing will destroy camaraderie among team members like one team member feeling like they are completely forgotten. Implementing a new software? Please don’t forget to tell your remote team members. Having a meeting in the office? Provide a video link!!
Ensure that they are just as set up for success in their role as anyone else in the company. Make everyone feel like equals and that they are valued because they are people and because you hired them.
Take care of them, and they will take care of you, your team, and your company.