The Importance of Developing a Strong Work Culture in Distributed Teams

June 16, 2017

As with most things in life, the benefits of distributed teams do not come without accompanying challenges. While lower stress levels, lower staff turnover and increased productivity are the intended outcome, without a healthy work culture, distributed teams will not reach their potential in terms of happiness on the job or in productivity and output. How can we nurture a truly healthy work culture, without the cues, tells and assumptions naturally picked up in a locally based team?

We can define work culture as an evolving set of collective beliefs, values and attitudes in an organization, it governs and guides the team members’ assumptions of what they are striving for. In a remote team, there is a greater need to actively and explicitly cultivate and sculpt the team’s norms to the desired standard. This allows the team members to be confident in making their own decisions and also reflect and relay the existing culture to new members.

A healthy work culture bonds and reinforces strength of organization

The process of creating a strong team dynamic must start before the crucial hiring process has begun. Establishing why the team exists, how and what they are going to do and to what standard, should guide the recruitment process, allowing candidates with attributes that fit the profile to be brought on board. This also presents an opportunity for a clear and explicit statement of the team’s mission to be given to the candidate before joining the project. If the new member is joining an existing team, the on-boarding process should clearly lay out the mission and practices that they are expected to become part of.

The key to any healthy relationship is communication and this is even more so in a long-distance relationship! Open and honest meetings are vital to connect the dissolute members of a team and keep them involved in the overall process and end goal of the project. Video calls also in points of work culture can add an increased layer of communication and understanding, avoiding some of the pitfalls of only using audio or chat. Of course, chat still has an important role to play. Having both formal and informal chat channels, will allow the opportunity to develop camaraderie and humor within the team, while also leaving the formal chat clear for efficient and clear communication.

Distributed teams succeed by creating and maintaining a healthy work culture. A clear sign of a healthy remote team is if they do meet face to face, it is like old friends meeting and that is something to strive for. It is not always necessary for the distributed teams to meet in person, as they may already have an extremely effective working relationship with each other. It could however be for social reasons and that can help strike a healthy balance. A work culture that strikes the right balance between the demands of the project and the needs and happiness of the team members is going to be a winning formula.

Building work culture that bonds all strings within a system is an indispensable element if you want to run a business, especially operating a software services organisation where you have both in-house and distributed teams running alongside. This insight with practical applications on remote workforce was written by fram^ Head of Business Development – Fred Smith. Please visit here for more services fram^ offers or get in touch with Fred via [email protected].

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