Camaraderie is one key to success for any team, especially in the tech department. For in-house tech teams, this strong, positive dynamic can easily come from working together to solve problems, create solutions and tackle projects—not to mention getting to interact regularly with people who have similar interests and expertise.
With an exclusively remote tech team, there may be fewer opportunities for team building. However, with a bit of extra effort, it’s possible to build extraordinary camaraderie within a remote group. Below, 14 Forbes Technology Council members share their best tips for tech execs looking to build a strong team culture among their remote staff.
1. Implement The Right Tech Stack
When it comes to building team culture, remote teams can be as successful as those in-house. Communication tools such as GoToMeeting or Google Hangouts provide video solutions for more interpersonal interaction. Some of our client companies that are very successful in operating with a 100% remote workforce also make an extra effort to bring all of their consultants onsite on a quarterly basis. – Jahn Karsybaev, Prosource IT
2. Introduce Everyone And Encourage Non-Work Conversations
Communicating with the remote team and setting up introductions so everyone knows each other is very important. Setting communication channels is key so the remote team does not feel disengaged. Taking time to reach out to your remote teams and talk about things apart from work topics helps the team feel important and gives a sense of security. Video conferences are very helpful. – Bhavna Juneja, Infinity, a Stamford Technology Company
3. Foster Personal Connections
Communication is essential for teams to perform whether they’re local or remote, but keeping a remote resource engaged goes beyond better communication. The camaraderie built with internal teams comes from personal connections built over time. I try to make that something that remote resources experience by sending small trinkets of interest and inclusion. – Randy Watkins, Critical Start
4. Get Them Together In Person
If possible, you want to bring people physically together for at least a couple of days to build the camaraderie. But day-to-day, collaboration tools allow easy, seamless interaction beyond just typing text (e.g. video, audio). Have something like a watercooler, where people can talk about non-business topics. Finally, encourage people to show appreciation for when things go right. – Vaclav Vincalek, Pacific Coast Information Systems (PCIS) Ltd.
5. Promote Your Company’s Purpose And Values
The keys to building and maintaining a company culture in a global and multicultural environment are purpose and values. A deep understanding of a company’s purpose and values gives it a compass with which to guide its actions, its people and its goals. When cultural differences and physical distance create a gap, the values are the bridge, keeping people across the world connected at the deepest level. – Bruno Guicardi, CI&T
6. Practice Distributed Pair Programming
When working with remote teams, establishing a strong culture can be challenging, but it is not impossible. Implementing distributed pair programming is an excellent bonding technique. Having a pair of developers work together not only increases collaboration but also promotes teamwork and improves code quality. Rotating these pairs encourages the entire distributed team to work together. – Christopher Yang, Corporate Travel Management
7. Ask For Advice From Peers
I often reach out to my peers with concrete questions, seeking advice—on everything from how to scale a sales team to feedback on concrete technology. Because the interactions are not in person, we often hesitate to initiate contact. But in my experience, this virtual connection—on the phone or over video conference—can be just as strong. When you do it often enough, you build great rapport. – Galina Antova, Claroty
8. Invest In Them Personally
Invest in your team to show them you care. When they need to work late, order food and have it delivered. Send them a company shirt to wear to their next conference, and keep their company equipment updated. Combine an annual trip to a relevant conference with a strategic meeting afterward to show them you care about their opinions on the direction of their project and the whole company. – Luke Wallace, Bottle Rocket
9. Lead By Example And Unite Them Under A Common Mission
First, demonstrate your passion and commitment to building high-leverage technology that will provide extraordinary value to customers. In addition to leading by example, make sure remote team members understand their vital role in the mission of the company. People will work harder for a leader whom they believe in. – Vernon Weitzman, Cira Apps Ltd.
10. Keep In Touch Via Chat Software
We have an exclusively remote tech team, so we use Slack to build a strong culture and camaraderie. Our entire company uses Slack to keep in touch with each other. We have Slack channels dedicated to each team, so the tech team has a channel to chat about tech issues. We also have a companywide “family” channel to talk about non-work-related things. It helps us form connections remotely. – Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster
11. Develop A Clear Roadmap With Frequent, Active Communication
To develop an extraordinary remote team culture it’s crucial to have a clear roadmap, rapid prototyping to help inform requirements, a strong project management capability and, above all else, active and frequent communication. Another consideration: Select a partner that you can work with as an extension of your organization versus simply hiring a vendor and having a transactional relationship. – Craig Powell, Motus, LLC
12. Get The Office Team Talking To The Remote Team
Instead of calling remote teams only to talk about their projects, we have them sit in on general meetings as well. Get a camera and setup that allows them to see the office and team, not just one face on a laptop. Instead of scheduling a once-a-week conference call, we all call each other whenever it’s convenient. This replicates the same kind of “Got a minute?” discussions that we have in the office. – Q Manning, Rocksauce Studios
13. Schedule Regular Scrums And Monthly Learning Opportunities
Participate in agile development sprints with a regular schedule of scrums. Using video-conferencing tools will help organizations build a strong collaborative culture. We host a monthly brown bag lunch series with the team to share innovative ideas and learn new technologies. Being transparent is key. – Archie Agarwal, ThreatModeler Software, Inc.
14. See And Recognize Every Team Member
Remote expert teams can be very hard to manage, as you are dealing with highly skilled individuals. Take time to recognize their effort individually, and build informal forums using collaboration tools like Cisco or Microsoft. Don’t compromise on quality here; communication is key. Also, if the budget allows, find time to gather the team at least once a year. In-person connections make the team grow! – Georg Thingbo, Kinly