We’ve been a remote team since I joined Fast and Female in 2016. I was based in Nova Scotia with the rest of our team spread out across Canada. As I’ve changed roles at Fast and Female, team culture and communication has been an area of interest and focus for me at every stage. It’s something we continue to build on with our remote team.
The 3 areas that have become so important to building and maintaining a strong team culture and a sense of teamwork while working remotely are communication, connection, and celebration.
I can say without hesitation that the biggest change to our internal communications, efficiency, team culture, and productivity, was the introduction and adoption of Slack as our main mode of communication. With a focus on dedicated channels, reducing reply-all emails, and a commitment to “working” in public channels to increase visibility and teamwork, Slack has changed the Fast and Female workspace and helped us be better communicators. Some advice if you’re just starting a Slack workspace for your team:
- Channels are your friend! Create channels with a clear and dedicated purpose. It helps people post and collaborate in the right places and keeps the “noise” down during high-volume messaging times.
- Notification settings are a must! Slack can feel super overwhelming at first, especially if you have it on your phone. It’s important to take breaks from work and feel like you can shut off when you need to. Mute channels, customize your “do not disturb” hours, and reduce notifications on weekends if you need to!
- We personally LOVE emojis at Fast and Female! Don’t have time to type a long response? Try dropping an emoji reaction on messages and posts to let people know you’ve read it.
- Pssssst – last but not least, if you’re a charity or non-profit, Slack Plus is free!
Since the day I started, Fast and Female has been big on video calls. My first interview with Chandra was over Skype, and this is a team culture aspect we’ve kept strong. All of our team calls are done “face to face” over video calls. It’s such an incredible way to get to know someone you may never have met in person. We start to notice when someone is working from a new space or has changed their background (plus, we’re big on dogs at F&F so we all get to know each other’s pups)! My favorite is the “gallery view” on Zoom. We call it the “Brady Bunch”.
Working remotely can mean that you sometimes miss out on the informal bonding that happens during lunch or breaks after-work hangouts. The watercooler is a real thing, and remote working doesn’t always facilitate that type of connection. It’s important for our team that we get to know one another on a personal level, so we created a #watercoolerwinz channel for our team to share positive affirmations, personal accomplishments we’re proud of, recipes, pet pics, workouts, and more. It has become an incredible resource and source of support, especially during these changing and uncertain times.
Our Slack watercooler channel also gets a serious workout on all team birthdays (literally)! We’re big on celebrating birthdays (even virtually) and have recently started a birthday burpee challenge. We all do burpees or another exercise (the number of whatever birthday it is) and upload for all to see (and for support .. because wow .. burpees are hard).
We have two dedicated Slack channels for celebrations. #bigvictories and #smallvictories exist so that we can share good news, happy announcements, and team successes, no matter the size. Celebrating wins, milestones, and accomplishments are a huge team booster for us and so important for our motivation and teamwork.
One of my most favourite weekly rituals from the office culture at a former job was Friday Treats. Each Friday, everyone on the floor would meet in the lunch room, someone would be responsible for bringing treats, and we would chat and then do rewards and recognition. Each week, employees could be nominated for recognition by co-workers and then these would be shared at Friday Treats with everyone. We’ve adopted the same thing at Fast and Female, but we do it on a monthly basis and share virtually. Every month, we collect and publicly share amazing “treats” testimonials from our team to and from each other. It’s the best form of warm fuzzy you can get – and of course, we expect that everyone treats themselves that day!
Written by Executive Director, Una Lounder.
We know that making the adjustment to working from home can be tough and disruptive for some. We know that team culture is important, no matter what team you work on. We believe health (mind, body, and heart) are important no matter what. Fast and Female has always been a remote team, so we thought we’d share some of our tips, tricks, stories, and experiences as a remote team. This is Part 1 of a multi-part series on working from home. Stay tuned for more!