We recently shared our tips for recruiting the best IT talent, so now let’s review some tips for keeping that talent engaged and productive in a remote or hybrid work environment.
You hear a lot about maintaining a positive workplace culture because it’s so vital. It’s been a major component of successful companies for decades, but as companies have increased the percentage of remote and hybrid roles, culture has become a greater focus than ever. Managers were quick to realize that fostering the ideal culture requires different skills and strategies in the new environment. As one IT employee told us, the virtual happy hours introduced during COVID lockdowns aren’t enough.
The good news is, there are strategies every organization can take to engage and unite their team whether that team is on-site, remote or somewhere in between. Here are some tips for building a great IT team culture.
- Ensure inclusivity during onboarding and training:
- Provide video options for all onboarding and training sessions, with accurate subtitles, making them accessible to all employees online. An area for improvement at most companies today is providing remote employees the same access that onsite employees enjoy.
- Develop and maintain comprehensive and consistent training materials for all team members and make them available online as well. Allow employees to complete training at their convenience, rather than demanding they all come to the office on a certain date.
- Foster a sense of belonging (and ramp up productivity) by creating a mentorship program in which tenured employees help new hires learn the ropes. This is especially important for younger workers who have little to no corporate experience.
- Prioritize open and transparent communication:
- Establish clear communication channels that work for everyone, such as Slack or Microsoft Teams.
- Encourage regular check-ins among team members. At BravoTECH, we do a brief, daily check-in with out team to make sure everyone is engaged and getting the support they need to do well.
- Schedule weekly meetings and one-on-ones with direct reports.
- Leverage technology to foster collaboration:
- Utilize user-friendly project management tools like Wrike, Asana or Trello.
- Hold team meetings and brainstorming sessions via video conference.
- Encourage the use of collaboration platforms like Miro for interactive, real-time whiteboarding.
- Host regular in-person team events:
- Plan monthly or quarterly team-building events to strengthen relationships and boost morale.
- Consider off-site retreats, educational workshops, or team lunches in addition to on-site gatherings at the office.
- Be sure to offer a balance of both professional development and recreational activities. In today’s environment, managers need to encourage employees to break away from their screens and have fun!
- Facilitate regular remote social events:
- Provide a budget for remote employees to order delivery when on-site team members are participating in a happy hour or other team event.
- Organize virtual games, movie/TV show watch parties or trivia events that all team members can take part in remotely (and don’t forget the ABCs of virtual meetings).
- Encourage remote workers who work on projects together to connect informally through virtual coffee breaks or lunch chats.
- Support a healthy work-life balance and your employees’ well-being:
- Promote flexible working hours and encourage your employees to set boundaries. In a hybrid environment, we’ve shifted our focus from how many hours employees work to results we can measure.
- Offer mental health resources and wellness initiatives. Make sure managers understand it is their responsibility to ask their reports how they feel about the work, not just how much work they have done.
- Keep track of team members’ workloads and personal challenges, and step in when necessary to keep them from getting burned out.
- Celebrate team successes and milestones:
- Recognize individual and team achievements regularly.
- Create a virtual “wall of fame” to showcase team wins.
- Encourage shout-outs and peer recognition in team meetings and communication channels.
In today’s work environment, “management by walking around” is clearly obsolete. CIOs and IT hiring managers must be intentional about fostering a strong team culture, especially if they wish to survive the ongoing IT shortage. Use available collaboration and communication technologies to their fullest, so that every employee can feel connected no matter where and when they work. By prioritizing inclusive onboarding, transparent communication and a work-life-fun balance, you can build a cohesive and engaged IT team that will thrive in your remote or hybrid environment.