How We Kick Ass at Culture on a Remote Team: 3 Tips

Whether you love or hate remote work it is NOT the same dynamic as working in-person. I’m not debating better or worse but I’m acknowledging it’s not a 1:1 comparison. My team at Firefly Team Events has always been remote the pandemic didn’t change that. We’re not perfect but we have a clear culture that serves our team well. The big idea is that culture IS possible and it’s possible to be awesome. Here is some of the secret sauce that allows our team to work remote, be productive, and still feel connected and having fun.

    1.  Slack is more than an Email replacement – Here are some of the ways we get goofy on slack
      • Virtual Dance Party – Early on in our Slack adoption the Virtual Dance Party channel was created. On Wednesdays the dance party is mandatory but any day any team member can call for one. How do you virtual dance party? We use Giphy to bring the party to life. It’s good for chuckles and a great way to celebrate wins, losses, and randomness.
      • Weekend Warriors – I think I post more in this channel than I do on Facebook. This is where our team shares moments from our personal lives. Pictures of kids, pets, and trips are common shares.
      • Rainbow Poop(yep, we say poop) – We are big on accountability and this channel is where anyone can voluntarily ‘fess up to anything. The standard post is here is: state my mistake, here is how I fixed it, and it won’t happen again because X,Y,Z. But we also have some hilarious confessions that sometimes aren’t even work related. The big thing to note is that this isn’t a discussion channel. The only thing someone else can do is support your accountability.
      • Workflows – We have several workflows that trigger random questions and spread ridiculous sunshine that people can participate in. We’re huge on hospitality so one of our polls each week is “What event are you excited for this week?”.
      • Awesome Bot – I created Awesome Bot using Workflows and Zapier. A couple of times a week it sends a random challenge to a random team member. For instance, you might receive this message, “In the General challenge post the following: Last one to type the word fluffy has to call me awesome.” or “Share what you had for lunch with the team” or “Text Kelsey a random picture”
      • Here is a more robust list of our Slack Engagement Ideas
    2. Birthdays – Sounds obvious right? We have a person dedicated to researching, purchasing, and shipping a gift to team members when it’s their birthday. They’ll often check-in and get ideas for gifts from the rest of the team. Receiving a small $25 max gift is always a hit.
    3. Virtual Water Coolers – I started these because as we grew we weren’t getting facetime with people outside of our execution circle. Water Coolers are simply a work discussion free open meeting. The rules are
      • Anyone can schedule a meeting
      • The time must be weird like “1:07pm”. None of this 1pm malarkey.
      • No work talk is allowed. All work talk can be booed until it stops.
      • Before the end of the session (which is fluid) the organizer has to pick someone to schedule the next one.

It’s a light lift to jump on a call and chat and laugh and have fun. Your team can relax with each other and socialize. That is one of the elements that often isn’t present in remote work. You can’t randomly chat with someone in the hall. These help with that missing socialization.

The key to any culture is understanding that culture is top down. If you don’t respect that responsibility your culture will become defined by a series of random interactions amongst your team. Not all of those interactions are going to be positive or in line with the core values. At it’s most basic culture is a collection of the team’s habits, rituals, and processes. It’s “this is the way we do things around here”.

Remember that as a Leader, even of a small team in a large org, that your team can have an culture that is independent of the org. How are you going to shape that?

Need a team building event to help build connection, boost culture, and put smiles on your faces? Check out our list of crazy fun team building activities.

Good Luck out there Leaders!

James Bennett is the CEO of the FireFly band of awesomes. He’s been in the team building space for over 25 years and is still insanely excited about game mechanics, leadership, and drinking chocolate.