March 24, 2020

Team Building 101: Creating a Strong Remote Workforce

Creating a Strong Remote Workforce

We seem to have entered the age of remote work. Companies all over the country (in fact, all over the world) are now working from home as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, and no one is entirely sure how long this is all going to last. How do you go about creating a strong remote workforce?

Naturally, SaaS companies are well-positioned to weather these confusing times, since many already have distributed workforces. But creating a strong remote workforce with all of the employees in different locations comes with a number of benefits and challenges. Creating an atmosphere that is receptive to teams and team building can be one of the stronger challenges.

Team building remotely can be done successfully despite physical differences and time zone hurdles, not to mention the personality differences of employees. Some of the most efficient remote employees are extroverts who need that interaction at some level. 

A company that has had major success with creating a strong SaaS workforce while working remotely is Buffer. Designed to deliver products to their clients across the globe, they also have a team that is global, spread across continents.

What they all have in common, however, is their passion for their customers and their ability to come together as a team with such unique factors. This unity among the team members brought together a group of corporate culture that is identifiable in their team of 80 no matter where they are in the world. 

What is Corporate Culture? 

When we review and assess the way that management and the rest of the team interact with each other at the corporate level, we are seeing the corporate culture. Everything from business hours and dress codes to benefits and policies in place by the administration will determine the overall culture. Corporate Culture is critical to the development of team building, especially for startups. Having a strong team during a startup can make a difference in the overall success of the company.

How to Pull Off Remote Team Building

Below are some of the best team building methods for creating a strong remote workforce while working for SaaS.

  • Infusing one-on-one calls and interactions
  • Group Discussions
  • Sharing Employee Stories and Backgrounds
  • Posting Periodic Updates About the Company and Team Needs
  • Virtual Reality Meetups
  • Digitize the Water Cooler

Infusing One-on-One Calls and Interactions

While most of your works and products may be completed online through programs, databases, and email, the need for direct communication is still there. Having one-on-one calls with your remote employees gives them a sense of being a part of the team and connected to something other than their computer. With video chats, you can perform a facial call so that both you and your employee can benefit from putting a face to a name and developing a connection through body language. 

Group Discussions

For many companies, the SaaS workforce is comprised of teams where members may be on opposite coastlines. With video conferencing available, team members can log into the conference and see all of the members present. They are able to use this visual channel to better explain their ideas and gather a feeling as though they were together at once reviewing the content. Having the ability to hear someone’s tone and view their body language can make team members more receptive instead of the impersonal tones that usually generate through email. 

Sharing Employee Stories and Backgrounds

Do your employees know exactly who they are working with? Instead of cubicles close by to learn about their colleagues, sharing backgrounds and bios of new employees is critical for a remote startup. Sharing a personal story written by that employee allows them to provide an insight into them personally and more dynamic so that other employees actually engage. As your startup grows from week to week, including a personal highlight from each employee about something they are working on currently or in their personal life will bring cohesion to the team. 

Periodic Updates About the Company and Team Needs

In order for each team and the members of those teams to come together on a professional level, they need to be aware of where each team currently stands. Posting weekly or monthly updates regarding the company is critical. Either through a memo newsletter or through a Webinar, whichever platform works best with your employees, give an insight as to what is happening within the company and how where support is needed. This opens the opportunity for employees to reach out to each other for assistance and come together unified when creating a strong remote workforce

Virtual Reality Meetups

While working remotely has given employees the ability to be more productive, it also gives a level of isolation and cuts some of the daily socializing found in the traditional office. By scheduling an hour a week for virtual reality meetups, your employees are able to log in and out at their leisure and interact with their colleagues. This gives them the options to discuss current events, social plans, or even ideas for the company to make it more unified. Give them an opportunity to build social relationships with their colleagues so that they can establish positive working relationships on behalf of your company and generate success. 

For Buffer, they decided to create two of these covering different parts of the world so that the time zones would be similar and more appropriate for work hours. Your startup could follow suit if your employees are spread more globally. 

Digitize the Water Cooler

While virtual meetups are available and an option, you can also utilize forums on your company portal, allowing a forum for teams to interact is a useful resource. Because employees may be working at different times, they can ask questions and follow up later when convenient for them. This allows a place for logged conversation to refer to as a resource. 

Prior to the digital world, offices had a forum known as the water cooler. Employees would take a few minutes to refresh in a cup of water and low-stress conversation. Forums are a great place for employees to seek out social interaction during the day with each other. 

Start With Team Building

If you take nothing else away from this, know that team building is critical for the startup business and its ability to be successful. Despite the remote locations of your teams, every SaaS should be prioritizing team building and not let it get left behind as the company continues to grow. Maintaining employee retention comes with more than a salary or benefits. It comes with the atmosphere and the ability to work and interact with colleagues regularly. 

Through all of this, remember that Bigfoot is here to help. Feel free to reach out if you need anything.