How to Build a Strong Culture with a Remote Team

When most people think of teams, they think of a group of individuals moving together toward a common goal. But a “We Thinking” leader inspires their team to not just walk forward side by side—but to literally and figuratively carry one another when a teammate needs it.

And it’s not always easy. Especially as recent global challenges and changes have led to businesses around the world embracing a remote or hybrid work model.

So, how do you inspire your team to achieve extreme performance when they’re not sharing their workspace and all of the communication is happening online? If you want to build a thriving remote culture, here are the five rules that will help you to get on the right track. 

1)  Hire the Inspired

Not that you’re necessarily in a position to hire, but when you’re bringing people onto your team in your life, make sure they are truly and deeply inspired by the mission at hand, as well as the goals and dreams of your organization. In order to build a strong and positive work culture with a remote team, you need to make sure you hire the person with their heart and soul in the right place. 

While there are some professions (like law, medicine, or engineering) where a specific set of skills and a particular knowledge base is necessary, most teams would benefit from putting a little bit more weight on the person’s enthusiasm and inspiration.

Why? Because in most cases, skills can be taught, while inspiration is harder to come by. Especially if your team is working remotely and doesn’t have the opportunity to connect by spending time together.

I used to believe that skill was the most important reason to bring someone onto my team, but I quickly discovered that the brightest superstars don’t create the greatest results in the long run. The greatest teamMATES do. When I’m selecting a team, I look for their aptitude with the 8 Essential Elements of Human Synergy:

Total Commitment
Empathy for and Awareness of Teammates
Adversity Management skills
Mutual Respect
We Thinking
Ownership of the outcomes
Relinquishment of Ego
Kinetic Leadership (The ability to lead based on need)


2) Inspire the Hired

Even if you hire an amazing team of thriving individuals who are working side by side on bringing your vision to life, they can lose inspiration too.

Here’s what you need to keep in mind. Your employees want to be inspired. They want to feel like part of a team. Even if they’re sitting at home in their pajamas while joining your next online team meeting, they want to feel valued, respected, and motivated.

One of the best ways to inspire is to give your employees ownership of their goals. No one wants to have their goals dictated to them.

You can give them ownership in three ways:

  • allow employees to choose their own goals,
  • give them a democratic voice in the goals your team chooses
  • value each person’s unique competencies, letting them lead in their areas of strength.

You’ll be surprised what you can achieve when your team finds deep inspiration for your team’s goals. Remember: motivation is for now; the inspiration is forEVER, no matter if we’re talking about remote or on-site work, and people embrace the things that they themselves help create.


3) Generate the Excitement

When you’re working in a hybrid or remote environment, it’s really easy to feel isolated, and to generate that excitement that comes from tackling a big project with a team.  One great way to get your teammates involved is to openly discuss challenges that the team faces, and ask your team members to weigh in on the solution. A whiteboard type of approach is great, even if it’s a shared doc that people open up and contribute to.  When you focus your virtual team on openly discussing problems and finding solutions, you’ll notice a wonderful and positive change in the culture. People WANT to help. They want to be part of a solution and to get credit for their input.  Asking them to help solve problems makes people feel like they’re part of the solution, part of the teams’ success, their teammate’s hero. There’s no stronger team glue than creating great solutions at work together.  


4) Give Away Credit

At work, we are often focused on our individual effort. Bonuses and awards are often given to individuals—not teams. The truth is, everyone will benefit from the help of a great team. . And we don’t succeed alone.

I know it can be hard to put the ego aside, especially if you put all of your energy and effort into a project, but if you want to build a strong culture with your remote team (or any team), you need to focus on team success instead of individual glory. Everyone wants to be appreciated and respected for what they do. So if you wish to lead your team to peak performance and want to build a truly strong remote team, relinquish your ego, ask for and offer help, focus on your teams’ success and employee recognition instead of individual glory, and give away credit.  Because guess what? On the right team, all of that credit will come right back to you every time.  


5)  Discover your Teammates’ WHY

Do you know the driver that gets each and every teammate out of bed each day and ensures that they always go the extra mile? It’s especially important to understand the WHY of remote and hybrid workers. As people are coming back to the office full time or part time, they are leaving a piece of themselves behind. Many people had more time to spend with their children, their loved ones, their husbands and wives, and they became accustomed to not having to turn off the personal side of their lives for 8-10 hours per day. Understand that returning to work is a BIG transition for people, just as remote work was at first. If we as teammates have a deeper understanding of WHY the people we work with work so hard, and we embrace and care about and ask about one another’s WHY, we can collectively make this transition back to the workplace so much easier, while at the same time creating the kind of bonds and team spirit that lead to world class performance in the long run.