Lessons from building a team and developing a culture remotely where everyone still feels engaged and valued.
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The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur's contributors are their own.
With many of us nearing the one-year-old mark of remote working, and with Victor and I celebrating nearly six months since starting our skin care company Pure Culture Beauty, I am thinking about how we built our business and developed strong team dynamics. While vaccine development and distribution has brought relief and hope that we can reunite with our colleagues and friends in the near future, it is still unclear when that will be the case. So knowing how to remotely build and maintain a team is still important – especially as many companies have recognized the value of remote working and have announced permanent remote working agreements.
Related: The Complete Toolkit for Remote Leaders
As many of us continue to work remotely – starting businesses, managing remote work, and rethinking team culture and dynamics – I share the lessons I learned from building our team and developing our culture remotely that everyone still feels in feel engaged and valued.
Related Topics: 3 Smart Tips for Successfully Managing Remote Teams
Never underestimate the performance of your network
Your relationships are extremely important, especially when building a business. When we launched Pure Culture, Victor and I really relied on our network for support. We've emailed, called, and texted our friends through LinkedIn inviting them to try our products. The value and strength of our networks have become clearer than ever and I encourage everyone to evaluate the strength of their networks, even if they are not starting a new business.
Don't be afraid to contact your network if necessary. Even if you don't think that your friends, colleagues and colleagues form your "network", they do – and they can provide the necessary support to get your idea off the ground, or to fill a gap in your company Connect with a potential business partner or investor. Even if the only connection you have with someone is your alma mater (who graduated or studied a different subject in a different year), that connection is still an important one. Don't be afraid to use it! Understand that those you have met or with whom you have shared experiences, no matter how tangential they are, may be the ones who are likely or willing to lend a hand if and when they can.
Find new ways to connect
The pandemic had already started when we started building our business. We not only had to identify talents remotely, but also hire our team remotely, have them on board and ultimately develop them. This required sourcing consultants to fill various roles in our team virtually. What was extremely important – and a lesson I would recommend to any single business leader building a team remotely – is treating every member of the team as if it were permanent. While it may feel like they are temporary because you work separately. However, treating them as different members of the team creates disjointed team dynamics that ultimately affect the growth and development of the business.
For these reasons, it is important to find ways to make a continuous connection. We had an idea for a happy hour early on. Before the planned date and time, I delivered the same wine to each team member so that this time together can be further consolidated and the feeling that we are together in the same room arises. When we launched the brand, we hosted a team call and everyone virtually partied together. Recognizing important moments to bond as a company and smaller moments to get involved will continue to build positive team dynamics as well as connections with each other and with the brand.
Don't take things too personally
Working in a remote “office” is a new concept for many of us. The line between work and life has been merged and with it comes the uncertainty about what it means to be a team, the appropriate cadence to reach out to your team members and know if someone is overworked or overwhelmed. In the office, you would know if someone was having a bad day based on body language or even the fact that you witnessed a failed interaction. The remote office eliminated that ability, making the concept of friendliness all the more important.
When you can't sit down with someone or see them in person these days, it is harder to know how best to be there for them. And our limited interactions make it easy to slip into the mindset that someone's tone of voice might be personal. However, it is important to remember that we are all busy and a person's tone or body language is not necessarily a reflection of us. Depersonalizing your interactions and remembering to be kind will go a long way.
2020 has been a difficult year for many companies, but it is important to approach 2021 with a new mindset to recognize the opportunities we all have to grow and strengthen our businesses in the year ahead. When you evaluate your network, reconnect with co-workers, and understand that your team members can still have a bad day in the remote office, your company and team are best positioned to succeed in the long-term remote environment.
Related: 7 Mistakes Executives Make When Managing A Remote Team