Virtual Teams

It is a tough time to have a really great corporate culture

We are lucky enough to work with a lot of excellent companies. The best of them have long traditions of looking after their people, they are relationship oriented and believe in building strong bonds of trust, loyalty and shared values.

In these companies, skilled line managers stay close to their people, if there are problems they show up, roll up their sleeves and get involved.

All these characteristics help build a strong corporate culture and nearly all of them are harder to maintain when we cannot get face-to-face.

In normal times these are the organisations that have very high travel bills. They jump on a plane to get face-to-face whenever they can and, whilst the cost of this can be considerable, it does help holds together some great global organisations.

An interesting by-product of this was that traditionally some of these companies also under-invested in communications technology as they preferred to get face-to-face. Most of them have now caught up on the availability of, for example, virtual meetings technology as a result of the pandemic.

Nearly all organisations  around the world have experienced aspects of a more remote way of working for at least part of the time over the last 12 months. Companies with a strong affinity for face-to-face management have probably felt the lack the most.

As we move into a period where remote and hybrid working is going to be normal for wider groups of people, we need to think about how we maintain a strong culture, relationships, trust and shared values in an environment where face-to-face time will be more scarce

We have met many great managers who run remote teams in companies with strong corporate cultures over the last 25 years who are beating themselves up that they cannot see their people more often. Often when we ask their people, they think their managers are doing a great job already.

We have often said to remote managers, “don’t overestimate the value of your presence”, people like to be left alone to a certain extent provided they can contact you when they need you. Fewer than 7% of people in a survey last year said they felt less productive because their manager wasn’t in close proximity.

Of course those companies with a strong legacy of trust and relationships have benefitted from that in maintaining relationships and engaging their people, but often they feel worse about it because in the past it was even stronger.

It is possible to do all of these things remotely, but it does need a different mindset and skill set.

We have updated our remote and virtual teams learning path for 2021 to include new material on topics including leading and working in hybrid teams, building a productive and sustainable way of working when working from home, staying creative when working remotely and managing positive performance conversations. You can find more details in our interactive learning path here.

Read our book Leading remote and virtual teams: Managing yourself and others in remote and hybrid teams or when working from home

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