Maintaining Company Culture with Your Remote Teams

Paul Mason

CTO at Captain401



Working with remote teams is quite a challenge. They are not easily fixable and cannot simply be left alone. You always have to monitor and continuously work on them. For me, one important task while working with remote teams is maintaining company culture.

Actions taken

  • One problem that I often see with remote teams is that comments in email or Slack often times get taken out of context. Particularly when there are cultural differences at play. For example, the members of my Australian team are often very forthright in their thinking and how they describe their thoughts on something that has been done. While their intention is good and they don't mean it in a malicious manner, it can come across as a bad interaction with the San Francisco teams. In these cases, I like to set up a "face-to-face" video call. From this call we are able to get a lot more visual cues and back and forth information without having to carefully articulate the answer or making assumptions with something that was written in an email. Thus, these "face-to-face" meetings are critical in order for us to maintain our culture and healthy work relationships.
  • These conversations also allowed people to make mutual connections. Bouncing off of this idea I introduced something called 'Meet Two' where every week individuals were tasked with meeting two new people, one at their local office and another at the remote office. For cross-country meetups, we used Google Hangouts and essentially had a remote coffee with the other person. It gave people the chance to meet somebody they wouldn't usually have the opportunity to meet with on different teams. People began interacting more with each other, learning new things about certain teams, and learning how things were happening with other teams. After their meetings, individuals would report back to their manager. This ensured not only that people were following through with the task, but that they were getting some sort of value from it. The managers would later report back to me with any feedback that they had.
  • As a manager, I also feel that it is quite important to visit remote teams once every quarter. This is because I put a high value on face-to-face meetings and there is a common misconception, especially remotely, that I'm "too busy". I find that they are a lot more effective than messaging on Hangouts, for example, and that people tend to be a bit more comfortable interacting with me when I am in a room with them.

Lessons learned

  • For the remote side of things it is important to make sure that the teams feel listened to. The key point here is making sure that the organization is using the appropriate mediums of communication.
  • While 'Meet Two' was a successful endeavor, after receiving feedback from the managers I actually reduced it down to "Meet One'. 'Meet Two' had helped within the same office but it was more vital that we focused on the culture across our remote teams.

"Maintaining company culture is one important task while working with remote teams."

"These 'face-to-face' meetings are critical in order for us to maintain our culture and healthy work relationships."

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Paul Mason

CTO at Captain401

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyCulture DevelopmentEngineering ManagementLeadership TrainingTeam & Project ManagementDiversity & Inclusion

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