Hey there, fellow remote-work aficionado! Picture this: it's 2023, and you're part of a vibrant, fully remote SaaS startup. Sounds exciting, right? But there's one hitch - how do you build team bonds and foster a rich company culture when everyone is scattered across the globe?
Well, let's dive into the story of Screeb. We are a remote-first SaaS company that has been navigating the challenges and reaping the rewards of remote work. So we wanted to share our remote playbook maybe you'll find some gems for your own team.
2023: The Golden Age of Remote Work
In 2023, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the way we work continues to resonate. A significant shift to remote work was one of the most pronounced changes, and recent data show that this trend has persisted and evolved, even as workplaces have begun to reopen.
Three years after the pandemic began, about 35% of workers with jobs that can be done remotely continue to work from home all of the time, a significant increase from just 7% prior to the pandemic. While the share of those working from home full time has declined somewhat from its peak during the pandemic, hybrid work schedules have become more prevalent. In fact, 41% of workers with remote-capable jobs are now working a hybrid schedule, an increase from 35% in early 2022.
In terms of raw numbers, it's estimated that about 14% of all employed adults in the United States, roughly 22 million people, are currently working from home full time.
The flexibility of hybrid work, splitting time between home and the office, appears to be popular among workers. Most hybrid workers, around 59%, work from home three or more days in a typical week. Furthermore, a substantial portion of hybrid workers, about 34% of those working from home most of the time, express a preference for working from home all the time if given the choice.
While the benefits of remote work often include better work-life balance and enhanced productivity, there are also challenges, notably in maintaining connections with co-workers. Over half of remote workers report that working from home makes it more difficult to feel connected with their colleagues.
Riding the Remote Work Wave: A Challenge of Culture
Sure, remote work sounds dreamy. But it does come with its share of challenges. One of the trickiest parts is building a strong team culture. Without a physical water cooler to gather around, how do you make sure your team feels connected and part of something bigger?
This is where the Screeb journey comes in handy. We've cooked up a series of rituals and practices that help us stay tight-knit and engaged, all while being miles apart.
Making Sprints Work for Us
Our lifeline is the Agile philosophy. All the company is organised around two-week sprints. These bite-sized work cycles keep us in sync and create a steady rhythm. Everyone knows what they're doing, and we all get to feel the sweet rush of progress.
That helps to have everyone on the same page and to synchronise all the different rituals we have without disturbing the actual work we have to do to create the best Product Discovery solution for our users.
Starting the Week Right
Every Monday, we all come together, mugs in hand, for a virtual meeting. It's our time to share how we're feeling, what we got up to over the weekend, and our top three priorities for the week. It’s like a mini team-huddle, starting the week with shared stories and laughter, and ending with a clear game plan.
Maybe Monday meetings could become your thing too? Make them about more than just work. Make them about the team.
Teams That Plan Together, Win Together
Before we plunge into a sprint, we get together in our respective teams and outline our battle plans. We brainstorm, discuss, and finally list out what we want to accomplish.
The secret sauce here is transparency and collaboration. Everyone's involved, everyone's heard, and everyone's on board.
Checking In, Not Checking Up
Every day, within our teams, we touch base during virtual daily standups. It's not about micromanaging; it's about lending a helping hand, cheering each other on, and sometimes, just lending an ear.
These daily check-ins can be a lifeline in a remote setup. They offer a regular touchpoint, a sense of routine, and a platform to share and collaborate. They’re also a way to be sure that, even remotely, you’ll have contact with your colleagues at least once a day.
🍻 and 🎲
To let off some steam and kick back together, we've got a couple of rituals. On the first Friday of each sprint, we have our virtual 'beer time.' An hour to land after a packed week, have a quick chat all together, share what are our plans for the weekend, share movies or series recommandations to each other, and say good bye before logging out. Of course, the beer is not mandatory ;)
On Tuesdays of the second week, we get together for some online gaming fun during 'esport' lunch sessions. We play online versions of board games, or challenge each other on online video games. It’s also a great way to create memories.
Why not give it a try? Pick something your team enjoys and make it a tradition. Trust me, nothing bonds a team like a friendly game of Among Us.
Celebrating the Wins: Sprint-End Demos
When we wrap up a sprint, we get together again, but this time, it's all about showcasing what we've accomplished. It's not just about ticking off a checklist; it's about sharing our victories and learning from our experiences.
If sprint-end demos are traditionally for product & engineering teams, at Screeb we make sure that everyone can share their achievements. At a company like ours, our product is as important as new customer stories, marketing initiative, etc.
In your team, take the time to celebrate the wins, no matter how small. It helps reinforce a sense of shared purpose and achievement.
Making Friends with Donut
We use a tool called ‘Donut’ on Slack, that helps us to add a dash of serendipity to our workweek. It pairs team members randomly for a chat every week, creating an opportunity for water-cooler conversations and cross-pollination of ideas.
Consider leveraging technology to add a bit of fun and spontaneity to your team's interactions.
Coming Together: Quarterly Gatherings
Even if we truly believe that remote work is the best way for us to grow, every quarter, we swap our home offices for a shared physical space. We come together to reconnect, align on our goals, and most importantly, have some fun. We book a shared space somewhere and organise important moments for our team: we share updates about the company, redefine our goals for the next quarter, take a look at what we’ve achieved and at our upcoming challenges. We also set some time for team building activities and to visit the place we’re staying at.
If it's feasible for your team, try to plan regular in-person meetups. There's something special about sharing a meal or simply being in the same room that Zoom just can't replicate.
Building a tight-knit, engaging team culture in a fully remote setup isn't easy. But at Screeb, we've found that it's definitely worth it. With these practices and a whole lot of team spirit, we've managed to create something special.
If you're on the same journey or contemplating taking the first step, we hope our Screeb story offers some inspiration and insights. Remember, every team is unique, and what works for us may not work for you. But that's the fun part - discovering your own playbook, your own rituals, and your own unique remote work culture. So buckle up, and enjoy the ride. It's going to be one heck of an adventure!