Thriving Cultures with Remote Teams
Workplace culture isn’t bound by walls; it exists between people.
Remote work solutions are revolutionizing the marketplace. If your company didn’t leverage some form of remote work pre-COVID-19, it’s nearly certain it does now. Adaptations and workflows introduced as temporary solutions at the time have remained as the new norm. Teams may have gained productivity and efficiency, but they lost the benefits of in-person dynamics, and culture can quickly suffer—watercooler conversations no longer cultivate connection, organic accountability declines, and meaningful camaraderie diffuses.
Our stewardship responsibility as Christian leaders is to ensure our team’s unity, effectiveness, and well-being. A thriving culture across zip codes and time zones, home offices and coffee shops doesn’t happen by accident, but it can happen beyond a single building. It requires a little adaptation to traditional operations and an ongoing commitment by leaders to invest time, resources, and strategies. Not only do company culture and ministry opportunities still exist in remote environments, but an innovative BaaM mindset can also poise us for even greater impact.
Tending to Our Flocks
“How do I manage my team when I can’t see that they are working?”
“How do I know what they are doing?”
“I can’t afford for this to fail.”
Do these sentiments sound familiar? Prudent leaders ask one more question: “To what extent are my concerns rooted in an unhealthy lack of trust?” If visibility between employees and managers change, a lack of trust may creep in. Employees who sense our misgivings risk adopting unhealthy work/life balance patterns to prove their productivity and value. They, too, are adjusting to the new normal.
Breaking the cycle of mistrust—real or imagined—starts with creating a different culture, one where employees feel trusted, empowered, cared for, and psychologically safe. King Solomon advised, “Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds” (Prov. 27:23). As leaders, we need to know who our employees are, what they’re facing, and how they’re doing—a challenging task made more difficult when we lack in-person contact. Virtual interactions tend to be more sporadic and succinct—and less intimate than those in person, hindering our aspirations for fruitful BaaMs (business-as-a-ministry). Employees need a sense of belonging to a mission bigger than themselves, and a remote arrangement only magnifies the need for leaders to create unity around a clear mission, vision, and core values.
C12 Member Brian Roland started his fully remote business over ten years ago. He now leads more than 30 employees located across the country, most of which have never met in person. Their company’s strategy for a thriving culture proves that people can share deep, meaningful relationships even while working remotely. He has adopted what he calls the “no-agenda” method—a monthly phone call to touch base with each of his employees.
Leverage the Constraints
While not every leader can meet with each of his or her employees, every leader can encourage the team to get creative and empower intentional connection. Leading ministry from a distance is not a modern issue—it’s an ancient normal. Think of the letters to remote team leaders throughout the New Testament we know as “epistles.” Jesus had deployed His senior leadership team to fulfill the mission globally. In turn, Peter and Paul would routinely write directives to local leaders on culture, conduct, and how they were to care for one another in alignment with their shared mission. How can you leverage the constraint of distance to forge creative ministry plans that endure remote access to teams, vendors, customers, and stakeholders?
See our leader’s guide for more insights and ideas for leading remote teams.