So Your Employees Don't Want to Come Back to the Office. Here's How to Create Purpose and Culture in Remote Teams Creating a common purpose among teams that are spread out across the globe is a new challenge entrepreneurs face.

By Kenny Au

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As the world economy continues to expand into remote work, many teams are struggling to adjust. Adaptability and flexibility are keys to success and bring new opportunities for growth. But how can remote teams adapt with purpose and drive?

Remote teams bring lots of benefits. One of these benefits is that you can attract skills and talent from all over the world. In fact, you may attract talent that would not accept the job unless remote work is allowed. A recent survey found that one in two people won't return to jobs that don't offer remote work after Covid-19. Seventy percent of respondents said they would be less happy if remote work was not an option, and many also said that they would look for another role if remote work was not allowed.

The world is changing fast.

But how do you build culture into a remote team when people are coming from such varied backgrounds and locations? How do you get your team together for a common purpose?

Related: Four Ways to Improve Company Culture in a Year

Figuring out how to build company culture into remote teams

Because remote work has been more for freelancers and independent contractors in the past, there is not a lot of information yet on building a great company culture within remote teams. How can we translate the ways we build culture in an office to working across time zones and countries?

It is going to take a combination of people, technology and new methods to make it all work. The technology side goes beyond just installing Zoom or Slack and hoping for the best. We need to keep up with the systems that are available and implement the ones that best fit each team. As remote work becomes more and more popular, there are sure to be new resources, but we need to build systems that work for each team.

When it comes to creating connected remote teams, building trust with each other is crucial.

Trust your people and encourage a work-life balance

It has been popular in the remote world for companies to require freelancers to install tracking tools that monitor the hours worked by taking screen captures. This can make team members feel rushed, watched and nervous. This does not build trust or a great remote culture.

We have to hire people that we can trust to do the work. As long as the work gets done in the time frame needed, let team members work at their own pace and schedule. Employers often worry that enough work will not get done if they give this freedom. However, it's the opposite problem that often takes root — employees work too much.

Encouraging teams to take breaks boosts creativity, work satisfaction, loyalty and trust. Let them choose to take a creative break during the day for an exercise class, a walk outside or a trip to the cafe. They will be refreshed when they return.

Think about ways to encourage team members to be efficient workers but also live their lives fully in a healthy way.

Related: Will Company Culture Suffer From the Rise of Remote Work?

Train people on how to build relationships remotely

Remote relationships do not grow the same way they would in person and in an office. The way you operate remotely is different and requires new skill sets. It takes vulnerability to build connections, and this starts with leaders. Encourage teams to bring their personalities and their entire selves to work by being the example. Everyone can connect with each other better when they understand each other.

Entrepreneurs can train on how to resolve conflict virtually for when issues do arise. Leaders need training on how to manage remote teams specifically — skills like checking in more frequently and taking the time to connect on a personal level. When people feel cared about, they will care about the team and the company.

Training culture and good values empower people to figure out things on their own. Remember people work better when they are refreshed and living balanced lives.

Know and express that people deserve to be happy

Do team members deserve to be happy at work and find fulfillment in it? Team leaders who believe in these ideals will have team members that feel fulfilled. Build a culture and systems around creating an environment where people can find joy and fulfillment while they are doing their work. After all, work is a big part of our lives.

The systems and culture we create can make our teams more fulfilled and happy. Empower team members to pursue their individual interests and passions.

Team members have a need to feel good about the contribution they're making. They want to feel like they are the right fit for the job and the team. Now more than ever is the time to rethink work and how we manage our teams.

With remote work, it's more challenging because everyone is scattered. It's important that we work to create a sense of proximity with our team wherever they are in the world by keeping in touch and being present. Be responsive and available as a leader and help team members connect with each other. Work to keep things fresh.

People want to work to help each other, not just a company. When employees feel that sense of community, they work harder and are more loyal. Everyone then feels more fulfilled. It's a win-win.

Remember, times are hard and many are exhausted. Yet there are a lot of opportunities. If we can re-explore compassion and bring that to remote work teams while integrating with new technologies and methodologies, there can be a better remote world in the future.

Wavy Line
Kenny Au

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Podcast co-Host & Investor

Kenny Au is the co-host of the ‘The Human & Machine’ Podcast. As the founder of Elevate Ventures, a venture studio for Web3 industries. He has invested and advised in 50+ venture-backed projects.

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