How To Build Work Culture in a Virtual Team
Building a strong work culture can be a struggle for even the best of teams. Throw in being completely virtual, and that adds a whole new dimension! According to StatCan, 32 percent of Canadian employees aged 15-69 worked from home most of their schedule by the beginning of 2021. And, the agency’s Labour Force Survey found that 3.1 million Canadians were working from home temporarily by February 2021. Despite a global pandemic, Marr Media Group has been working from home since inception, and we intend to keep it that way. It’s kind of our thing! With our team scattered across Canada, we are often asked how we maintain such a “strong work culture.”
Here’s a few of our secrets...
1) Pop-Up Offices
Although we love our ability to #WorkFreely, there’s something to be said about face-to-face interaction. We make these happen on a semi-regular basis with pop-up offices! During our pop-up office days, we select a city (generally where the majority of our team is located) and invite the rest of the team to join - flights, accommodations and team-building experiences all included. Pop-up offices let us collaborate on client projects, brainstorm over internal discussions, and we often use these days to plan our next quarter in depth when timing aligns. They also give us a chance to get to know each other outside of work. Trust us, there’s no better team bonding moment than late-night karaoke.
Virtual teams often have very different hurdles to jump than in-person ones… communication being a major one. How does one foster a culture of communication with a team spread across the country and in different time zones? We have clearly defined communication channels and processes that effectively allow the team to have quick virtual check-ins, consistent one-on-ones, and regular in-person retreats that everyone contributes and looks forward to. One tool we use frequently is Slack, which is our day-to-day instant messaging tool. Each of our channels were built for a purpose, including our #outofoffice channel, which lets us share with the rest of the team when we’re grabbing lunch, running errands, or just signing off early to soak up the sun. This unique communication style is something we’re quite proud of, and we ensure expectations are communicated as you enter the role to remove ambiguity.
As for the important one-on-one time, these are scheduled well in advance by the Marr Media Group leadership team, never missed or overlooked, and always purposeful. They give each team member the space to talk about how things are going, where they’d like to lean in or scale back and exchange constructive feedback. Lastly, our much anticipated in-person events are thoughtfully planned and give the team an opportunity to get to know each other beyond just work.
Slack is just one of many tools our team uses to maintain a strong line of communication. Beyond it, we have selected project management, conferencing, and workflow tools that facilitate communication internally and externally. Want to give them a try for your own team? Check them out here!
3) Robust Hiring Process
Although we’ve had many impressive applicants come across our desks, we aren’t just looking for a professional fit, but a personal one too! During our interview process, not only do we send out a fun personality quiz so we can get to know you as an individual, but we also hold “group interviews” and “team interviews.” This may sound intimidating… but we make them as fun as a job interview can be!
Group interviews allow us to see how candidates communicate and interact with one another, especially through a virtual setting. As for the team interviews, these are run by existing members of our Marr Media Group team! They give us a chance to see how a candidate will mesh with our team dynamic, and also gives our interviewees an opportunity to ask candid questions about the role. It’s important to us that they are not only a fit for us, but that we are also a fit for them. Remote work isn’t for everyone, and that’s ok!
Building a strong work culture, especially on a virtual team, isn’t something that happens overnight. It requires trust, collaboration, communication, and good leadership, and that’s just scratching the surface! As the world sees an upward trend in remote work, we are glad it’s a path we’ve been on, and will continue to be on.