Remote work was already on the rise before the pandemic began. While some companies have returned to their offices, others have decided to remain mostly or entirely remote. 

Writers Anne Helen Petersen and Charlie Warzel interviewed many remote workers for their forthcoming book Out of Office, which speaks to this very topic. When intentional practices to cultivate camaraderie weren’t in place, Petersen and Warzel said many employees, especially those beginning their careers during the pandemic, felt disconnected from their supervisors and coworkers. 

In an article last month for the New York Times, Petersen and Warzel wrote, “All were grateful to be employed, but many felt left behind, invisible and, in some cases, unsure about how to actually do their jobs.” 

The OpMentors team worked remotely long before the pandemic occurred and “remote work” was a buzzword.In fact, we’ve been remote since our inception in 2014! . Working remotely has its benefits, but we’ll be the first to admit it also has its challenges. 

Over the 8 years we have been remote, we’ve discovered some vital practices for our team so no one feels left behind, invisible, or unsure about their roles and responsibilities. Today we’re sharing 4 ways you can build camaraderie and cohesion among your remote team too. 

1. Slack, Slack, and more Slack. 

No, we’re not talking about slacking on your job. Slack is the perfect platform for remote teammates to communicate with one another. We’re big fans at OpMentors. 

Lengthy email threads are cumbersome and confusing, especially those “Reply all” emails. At OpMentors, we’ve worked hard to find a better way to discuss opportunities, projects, and company announcements. 

We rely on Slack a lot because the platform has organized spaces for communication called “channels.” We create channels for all of our opportunities and projects, which keeps communication in one place and eliminates a lot of back-and-forth and lost communication that many companies experience. 

We also use Slack to collaborate with other companies! We often invite FinancialForce and Salesforce partners to join opportunity channels or subcontractors to join our project channels. 

Slack gives everyone on our team control over how and when they get messages too. If teammates need to work “heads down” for a while, they can silence all notifications. They can also customize their settings so they only receive notifications on certain projects if they need to focus but they’re waiting for an urgent response.  

Salesforce also owns Slack — an added bonus! Slack integrates seamlessly with Salesforce and can live on the Salesforce platform. 

Check out Slack for your remote team if you haven’t already – it’s a great go-to for external and internal communication! 

2. Have strong solutions in place for your (virtual) front and back offices. 

We talk a lot about the importance of having a holistic view of your company. Even for employees who work in an office together, business can feel like chaos if different departments are working in isolation or entering data into disconnected spreadsheets or solutions.  

That feeling intensifies for remote workers if you can’t view the status of an opportunity or project, confidently resource a project once an opportunity is closed, or make decisions about the company’s future without comprehensive analytics — and those are only a few pain points you might be experiencing! 

We admit we’re biased. But we believe Salesforce and FinancialForce are powerful solutions to these problems, especially for remote teams. 

Our remote team is always teaching others how they can maximize these solutions, but we like to say we “drink our own champagne.” We use Salesforce and FinancialForce to ensure our virtual front and back offices are communicating, even across thousands of miles. 

We can’t stress enough the importance of having good solutions in place as a remote team, whether you use Salesforce and FinancialForce or not. 

3. Be clear about expectations and have check-ins for accountability.

You might be surprised how many employees feel they don’t know the expectations their supervisors have of them. This problem can worsen for remote workers when they aren’t seeing and talking to their supervisor or teammates every day. 

Do team members really know what’s expected of them? 

One way to show you care for your remote team is to make sure everyone knows their roles and responsibilities. Then create a strong system of “checks and balances” to monitor whether they’re meeting your expectations. 

We’re not encouraging you to micromanage your team. Micromanagement can lead to frustration and mistrust. 

Instead, provide a good balance of accountability, freedom, and flexibility. Have clear expectations and measurables for the company as a whole. Then prioritize check-ins with individuals so they’re empowered to creatively meet their goals in a way and at a pace that works for them. 

You can also have discussions or workshops with your team about ways to be productive at home. Working from home isn’t for the faint of heart, and it’s easy to get distracted. Encourage team members to set weekly and daily personal goals or practice time-blocking to decide ahead what projects they will work on and when. 

Remote teams thrive when everyone knows what they expect from themselves and each other

4. Keep work fun!   

Jennifer Moss, author of Unlocking Happiness at Work, says, “…community and friendships are important — they can be the difference between loving or hating work.”

We believe she’s right, but building community can be difficult for remote teams. Only meeting to talk about business can lead to burnout. 

We work hard to cultivate fun, community, and friendship at OpMentors. We foster a culture of work-appropriate humor. We encourage one another to have fun and not take themselves too seriously in team meetings and over Slack. Using gifs and emojis to express ourselves might as well be company policy! We also prioritize meetings to connect with coworkers on a personal level. 

We celebrate together too! We make sure to recognize birthdays, work anniversaries, and other noteworthy milestones. We even have a “Kudos” Slack channel where we share positive feedback from each other and our clients. 

How can you keep work fun for your team? 

We’d also encourage you not to think of meetings only for accomplishing agendas. Some people work better around others, which you can surprisingly simulate virtually too. Create a virtual meeting room occasionally where teammates can pop in and work with one another. 

Nik Panter, our Delivery Director you met last week, will open a meeting room and play music in the background so teammates can join him and work or chat as needed. It’s his virtual spin on “keeping his office door open.” 

Remote teammates can sometimes feel they’re on an island. Get creative about ways to cultivate community from miles apart. 

Working remotely has its perks. But companies can become revolving doors for employees due to isolation or burnout unless you’re intentional about combating these issues. 

Our team at OpMentors has become close-knit even though we work from locations across North America and Europe. We attribute a lot of our cohesion to these 4 practices. We’re confident you and your coworkers will grow closer if you adapt them to your work culture too. 

We’re always here to help if you’re looking to implement and optimize stronger solutions for your remote team. Schedule a call today, and let’s talk about how we can get your virtual front and back offices up and running quickly on Salesforce and FinancialForce.