Different rules apply to companies of different sizes and structures.
Some are fully remote, others have offices in different locations, or headquarters with freelancers, consultants, and remote employees around the world. Also, some stick to the same time zone (or country/continent) while others are… well, fully distributed.
Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, recently shared that communication is the #1 skill in demand on the market. Lack of crisp communication can be the “root of all evil” in any type of remote team.
And it’s a mutual effort. Why?
- The founders’ mentality should embrace remote workers.
- HR has to consider remote hires as equals.
- On-site employees (if any) should not treat remote workers as second-class citizens.
- Remote workers should communicate proactively.
Communication issues should be discussed as early as the job interview, brought up later on (as needed), and tackled on an ongoing basis.
Communication protocol, frequency, and mediums in use are to be defined as well. Common pitfalls are on-site office discussions which aren’t recorded or summarized publicly for remote team members. This – again – is a management decision (or a senior leadership one).
Once everyone is on the same page, remote employees should keep in touch and be kept in the loop at all times, thus treated equally – as best as possible.
Yet, there are water cooler conversations, Friday evening drinks, on-site meeting jokes and things like that. Inevitably, those would be missed. And that has to be accounted for early on.
But there are different activities suitable for semi-remote teams – some more expensive, others – free.
- Team buildings and gatherings – The most common one by far. And the most expensive, too. Speak with HR and/or management if you want to meet the team every few months.
- Conferences – Some companies send employees to national (or even international) events for training, networking, marketing purposes. If events are part of the company culture, you may as well travel every few weeks and meet different members on your team.
- Offtopic chatters -As a distributed company, we use Slack for all sorts of discussions (okay, MOST of them). We have a bunch of non-work channels – #offtopic (gifs, memes), #social-media (sharing some statuses), #success-stories (personal & professional accomplishments), #resources (intriguing articles), #health (mental health discussions), and a lot more for small groups of people into gaming, a certain music genre (or playing an instrument), whatever anyone asks for.
- Gaming – We have people playing World of Warcraft, League of Legends (different groups), Counter Strike, Diablo, and other multiplayer games. People occasionally meet and game every couple weeks – or more frequently.
- Music, movies, sport, politics – Folks find a common ground and start conversing about their favorite subjects. This may shape some contrasting teams as well, i.e. Android vs. iOS people, Blue team vs. Red team, things like that.
- Attending events together.
- Learning languages together.
- Watching series and chatting about it.
You can find peers in any company as long as the company culture is designed with remote workers in mind.