How to Create a Culture of Collaboration for Remote New Hires
Remote work is on the rise but for many organizations, this can pose new challenges in terms of supporting a culture of collaboration among employees and teams. In this guest article from Tracy Ring, you’ll learn how you can ensure your team remains collaborative, even as the workforce grows increasingly distributed.
Remote work has many advantages, but creating a culture of collaboration for remote new hires is one of the trickier practices to master. Buffer’s 2021 State of Remote Work survey confirms this, finding a “lack of collaboration” as one of the three main issues that virtual teams face.
Especially as you onboard new employees, it’s important to promote open communication and workflow collaboration so that they feel like part of the team.
And as a manager, you can minimize this challenge with new hires by prioritizing collaboration and using the right tools.
Here’s how to help remote new hires assimilate into your existing workplace and establish a strong culture of collaboration for everyone on your team.
1. Integrate Company Values into the Onboarding Process
Core company values help employees feel connected to the larger mission behind their work. This is especially true in periods of challenge, uncertainty, or disruption (like the year-long pandemic we’re still experiencing).
In fact, a Gallup case study found that during a crisis, one company increased its net profit by 85 percent in five years through a culture transformation that began with clearly defined core values built into all policies and decisions.
The sad news is that the same report found that just 41 percent of U.S. employees actually know what their organization’s core values are, and only 27 percent believe in those values.
You can avoid that issue in your workplace culture, starting with new team members by:
- Introducing new hires to your core values right from the outset of their onboarding process.
- Tying these values to the organization’s main goals
- Demonstrating how your new employees’ roles factors into this mission
- Asking existing staff to describe the company values in their own words and how they execute them in their roles and sharing this with new hires (either film the testimonials in advance to show at orientation, or do this in real-time during a virtual meet-and-greet with your new hires and existing team member)
As the collaboration experts at Hubgets say: “When you stand by your values and place them at the core of your business, they can act as a guide for your employees in those unpredictable situations that aren’t mapped out by a set of procedures.”
When new hires feel confident in that knowledge, they’ll collaborate more closely with and assimilate more effectively into the team.
And if you’re looking for help with your values, you might want to enlist a training program like Outback’s workshop, Creating Mission, Vision, and Values. Or, you can check out Outback’s article: A Step-by-Step Guide to Uncovering Your Core Company’s Values.
2. Provide Access to the Right Virtual Collaboration Tools
While you’re likely well aware that you need to train new hires on your virtual tech stack, you might not realize that too many collaborative tools can cause more problems than they solve.
Recent reports show that 75 percent of remote employees experience digital overload. Between email threads, video meetings, chat programs, and more, the excessive use of different collaboration platforms can feel confusing or overwhelming, especially for new hires. This overload can even lead to burnout.
Employees waste valuable time if they don’t know when to communicate with each other on a project management channel versus when to send an email or make a phone call.
Additionally, it’s a roadblock to successful collaboration. An estimated 69 percent of employees waste as much as one hour of productivity each workday due to an overload of collaboration tools, and 68 percent toggle between 10 platforms each hour, according to another recent survey.
To avoid this problem, scale down and organize your tech stack so that new hires can access the right virtual collaboration platforms rather than being faced with an unnecessary amount of options. You can do this by:
- Auditing your platforms and asking your current team what they regularly use
- Creating an organized workflow to share with new hires on top of comprehensive training
Navigating virtual communication channels is essential for new remote team members, but you also may want to include current staff so that everyone is on the same page. Think of it as digital spring cleaning.
For more on this topic, you might also like Outback’s article: 7 Tips for Making Workplace Collaboration a Positive Experience.
3. Create and Maintain a Safe Virtual Environment
When employees feel comfortable voicing their opinions without criticism, pushback, or dismissal, it can lead to a 27 percent decrease in turnover and a 12 percent increase in productivity, according to Gallup data.
The freedom to speak openly in front of supervisors and other team members will help your new hires feel safe to contribute and participate, both of which foster collaboration.
When you create a safe workplace culture, the results are openness, trust, and collaboration among team members. Paul J. Zak explains in his book, Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performance Companies, employees who work in high-trust environments are also:
- 106 percent more energized in their roles
- 50 percent more productive
- 29 percent more satisfied
- 40 percent less likely to be burnout
If you feel like this is an area where your team could use support, check out Outback’s training workshop, Positive Team Dynamics, which helps build trust between colleagues and reinforces strong collaboration.
4. Make Time for Non-Work Related Team Communication
There’s no way around it; new employees will collaborate more when they feel comfortable and welcomed into the team. One of the best ways to accomplish this is via team-building activities. However, that’s challenging in a remote environment.
A recent survey confirms this, finding that 60 percent of remote workers feel disconnected from their teams due to COVID-19, and nearly 50 percent want their organizations to improve communication.
However, a year into working remotely (and longer for some teams), it’s hard to plan meaningful digital events that aren’t boring or lame. Moreover, encouraging shy new employees to participate with your existing team, who, let’s be honest, is likely unenthusiastic—is definitely a hurdle.
In another survey of more than 1,000 employees around the U.S., 38 percent have reported “Zoom fatigue” since the start of this pandemic, and 24 percent find video meetings to be exhausting and inefficient.
To combat this issue, you’ll need to think outside the box to assimilate new hires into your team-building activities. Try some of the below unique and creative ideas from the team here at Outback Team Building:
- Virtual Code Break: Employees split into virtual teams and work together to solve a series of puzzles, riddles, and trivia questions. To win this competition, each team must communicate and collaborate effectively in a race against the clock.
- Virtual Clue Murder Mystery: Employees divide into virtual teams and examine clues, review case files, and decipher the mysterious events of a murder. This game reinforces collaborative strategies and problem-solving.
- Virtual Game Show Extravaganza: Employees work in virtual teams to answer trivia questions on a wide range of topics. To earn the most points, the teams must listen to each other and reach a unified group consensus.
And if you’re looking for even more inspiration, you can read through Outback’s article that explores 26 Virtual Team Building Activity Ideas to Engage Remote Employees.
As you onboard remote new hires and help them integrate onto the team, it’s vital to keep collaboration at the forefront. While virtual distance can make this difficult, it’s not impossible. Use the above four strategies to support new team members throughout their journey. You may also find that these tactics increase collaborative efforts with your existing staff as well!
Learn More About How Virtual Team Building, Training, and Coaching Solutions Can Help Increase Collaboration for Your Remote Team
For more information about how you can help boost collaboration with virtual team building, training, or coaching solutions, reach out to our Employee Engagement Consultants.
Tracy Ring is a long-time remote worker, freelance writer, and content marketer. She loves to write about the intersection of mental health and workplace trends. Tracy brings a real-life perspective to her writing from 10+ years of diverse experience including, HR, project management, customer and client relations, and admin roles. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter.