How to Build Culture with Virtual Teams
Effectively managing teams and building culture is difficult. When leaders think about doing it virtually, it can sound overwhelming to most. How do you build a thriving culture with virtual teams? The answer is the same.
You have processes
You care about the individual
You bring the individual into the whole of the team
We are very intentional at Rocket Station about the way we create culture, and we create our culture with our processes every single day.
Culture starts with systems and processes. If from the top down, you have clear alignment about job roles, functions, responsibilities, systems and processes are mapped out, there’s a scope for everyone’s tasks, then expectations and accountability are clearly defined. If you do that for each team member, that’s the foundation to strong culture. Every individual in your organization needs to have clear understanding of what’s expected of them.
Virtual team members sometimes seem less connected, so we celebrate more wins than we would within the office. Smaller wins are broadcasted publicly among all channels. That way, there is more recognition, more often throughout the organization. By having open communication and praising and celebrating peoples wins, it makes your virtual employees feel a lot more tied in and appreciated.
We publicly praise as much as we can. We call out individuals for doing amazing things throughout the day. We use Facebook Workplace quite a bit for our social interaction. Workplace for us is all about culture building. We like to celebrate birthdays, babies being born, holidays and special times of the year. We like to celebrate health and wellness – this is our place for our community to come and share personal stories and interact with each other on a personal level. All other forms of communication from our team is work focused, but within Facebook Workplace, we form a community environment that’s all about personal relationships and personal growth. It has been an amazing way for us as an organization to bond, grow and build our culture.
When we first started with Workplace, we had to kind of push it along. We had to kind of incentivize people to post, but once we got some momentum, an amazing thing happened. Workplace took on its own life. I no longer had to push people to share. Because people participated and shared pieces of their lives and themselves, workplace has become one of our best tools for growing culture.
It might seem like overkill, but weekly team meetings are critical to effective virtual management. In team meetings, we don’t just share mission critical information. We come in with an agenda, there is a purpose to each meeting, every team member is sent the agenda beforehand and comes in focused and ready to go. But, each weekly team meeting has a couple different parts to it.
We always start the team meeting with some social interaction. Each person gets a chance to share what they have going on and any stories they want to share – briefly. This allows for the team to have some bonding moments
After we have a little bit of personal time, then we jump into the agenda and the scheduled meeting. Not only do we have scheduled meetings every single week, we let people personally participate in those before the scheduled agenda comes out. This is a huge part of our team building and makes people feel supported, loved, and part of a community.
Once a month, we meet all together – we call these a Town Hall. There’s a few specific things we cover during these town halls:
New Hires – we love to celebrate our new team members. What an amazing compliment when someone is willing to join our team! We are proud of every team member that comes onboard and we want to celebrate that.
Company updates – what are we working on, where is the company going, what is the focus for the organization going forward. It’s important on town halls to share company updates, focus, and what’s expected of the organization.
Company wins – large new acquisition, fundraising, anything that’s exciting for the organization. We make sure to share these wins during our Town Hall.
Rocket Station has community events that we call Rocket Station Cares events. These are volunteer opportunities for our team members to go and serve the communities outside their own. They get together in groups, pick a mission, and go serve a greater purpose. These are one of the best ways to grow a culture inside your organization. Getting team members to work together on common goals bigger than themselves outside of your organization is an amazing way to not only build and bond relationships within the organization, but the overall culture will improve as well.
Yes we’re virtual. Yes we work remote. And yes, we still get together from time to time and have community events where we can share and hang out together. Even though we are working remotely, we make sure that once a quarter, all of our team members get together within each department. A few times a year we intermix the departments so everyone can get to know each other. In December we do a team event where everyone gets together, but throughout the year we make sure the team gets together multiple times for pizza parties, hangouts, different events to have a great time a couple times a year to grow and bond those relationships in person.