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Creating a Cohesive Remote-First Team: Strategies and Tools

Remote working has become an increasingly popular work arrangement for businesses to consider before the Covid-19 pandemic. However, with the sudden shift to remote work for many organizations due to the pandemic, many managers are now finding themselves in a challenging position – how do I ensure that my remote team stays cohesive and productive, despite the physical distance?

Creating a cohesive remote-first team requires a shared understanding of the team’s goals and values, clear communication, and access to reliable tools that can help team members remain connected and focused. In this blog, we will go into depth about the strategies and tools that can support the creation of a cohesive remote-first team.

Define Shared Goals and Values

Defining shared goals and values is essential to building a cohesive remote-first team. Without this, team members may feel like they are working towards different objectives and lack a sense of purpose.

The first step towards creating shared goals and values is to establish clear, measurable strategic objectives. Once the team understands the company’s strategic direction, it is easier to define SMART goals for each team member. These goals should be reviewed regularly, and progress should be shared with the entire team.

The team should also create and agree on a set of values and principles that guide how the team operates. These values should be visible and communicated to every team member, and it should be encouraged that they are integrated into how the team works together.

Team alignment on goals and values ensures that everyone is on the same page and hence fosters a feeling of unity and togetherness among the team.

Effective Communication

Remote work can often lead to misunderstandings and misinterpretations of information, which can result in delayed deadlines, decreased productivity, and tense relationships between team members. However, thoughtful and effective communication can help to mitigate these issues.

In remote teams, communication should be frequent and clear, and a balance should be struck between ensuring that everyone is on the same page without over-communicating. Communication channels should be streamlined, and everyone should be consistent in their use of these channels.

Tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet can help in creating a shared communication platform for the team to communicate and stay up-to-date with important updates.

Regular team meetings are also essential to creating a cohesive team, as they offer an opportunity for everyone to stay connected and on the same page. Team meetings can be used to discuss project updates, new initiatives, and any other relevant information.

In addition, one-on-one meetings between team members and the manager can provide a safe space for employees to express their concerns and ask questions while building a strong relationship.

Provide Structured Feedback

Structured feedback is essential to create a growth-oriented work culture. Feedback, whether it is positive or negative, helps individuals to understand how their performance is impacting the team’s success and, more importantly, helps to identify areas that need improvement.

Remote teams must integrate structured feedback into their work processes to provide the necessary support and guidance to their employees. Feedback should focus on growth and development goals, as opposed to simply focusing on performance metrics or criticizing individuals.

360-degree feedback is a useful tool that can be utilized by remote teams, allowing people to ask for and provide feedback to their peers, eventually helping to cultivate a culture of continuous improvement across the team.

Provide Effective Collaboration Tools

Effective collaboration tools are absolutely essential in supporting remote teams to work together seamlessly. A well-chosen collaboration tool provides a central location where team members can communicate, share files, and access project-related documents simultaneously. Examples of collaboration tools include Asana, Trello, or Basecamp.

Collaboration tools are also crucial in helping team members understand project priorities, deadlines, and outstanding tasks. Tools like Dropbox or Google Drive allow team members to access and collaborate on important documents in real-time, improving efficiencies in project delivery and reducing the risk of duplication of work.

Build Trust and Create a Safe Working Environment

Remote teams often lack in-person interactions, potentially leading to the feeling of isolation and a lack of trust between team members. However, it is essential to foster trust and build cohesion within the remote-first team.

Managers should ensure that all team members have access to the resources they need to feel valued and are easily able to reach out to their team members to promote a safe working environment. This could include the provision of online training courses, access to a Personal Development Plan, or regular check-ins with each team member.

It is necessary to introduce social activities that can help team members get to know each other on a more personal level. This could include virtual happy hours, team-building activities, and even virtual coffee breaks, helping to establish clear interpersonal connections to facilitate hearty conversations.

Encourage Autonomy

One of the benefits of remote work is that it allows team members to work independently on their own schedules, which can lead to increased creativity, productivity, and employee happiness. Encouraging autonomy is crucial, but there is a fine line between providing autonomy and ensuring that deadlines are met.

Managers should establish clear expectations on deadlines and outcomes, while also allowing team members to have the flexibility to meet these demands on their own schedules. Use of project management tools can facilitate this, allowing team members to manage their own workload while also updating the project manager on their progress.

Establish Clear Work Hours

Remote work allows team members to work from anywhere and at any time, which can make it difficult to establish clear work hours. Managers should ensure to establish clear work hours, which can vary according to the team’s requirements and work across different time zones.

It is crucial to ensure that team members are not working more than they are contracted to, causing burnout and exhaustion in the long run. Encouraging regular break times, especially away from the computer, can help employees maintain their productivity throughout the day.

Foster Diversity and Inclusion

Creating a diverse and inclusive work environment is essential to building a team that can thrive in a remote-first setting. It is also the right thing to do.

One of the potential consequences of remote work is that it can be more challenging to identify and address unconscious biases. Therefore, managers must foster a work culture that values diversity and inclusion and ensure that the remote-first work environment is welcoming to employees from all backgrounds.

This can include reviewing the hiring process, training employees in unconscious bias, celebrating diversity and inclusivity, and regularly discussing these topics within the team.

Promote Innovative Thinking

Innovative thinking is vital to the success of remote-first teams. Teams need to develop new ideas for adapting to the ever-changing landscape of remote work culture. Managers should have a plan in place to foster and promote innovative thinking among their team members.

Creativity is the foundation of innovative thinking. A robust creative culture can be fostered by establishing a cross-departmental ideation session or having an open-door policy for brainstorming sessions. Encouraging team members to think beyond their usual role limits opens up the channel for innovative ideas and helps to improve communication between departments.

Utilize Technology Effectively

There are numerous technological advancements that can be employed to improve productivity, communication and project management. Utilizing technology for remote-first teams can make tasks more comfortable, streamlined, and efficient.

One example of technology that can be used is AI-powered project management software. These tools automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks, allowing team members to focus on more demanding tasks. The software can assist with scheduling, file management, team communication, and much more.

Being technology-savvy is not limited to just project management software. With modern technology, businesses can host virtual events, webinars, and online courses to foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement on individual and organizational levels.

Encourage Collaboration

Teaming up on tasks can lead to increased engagement and motivation for remote-first teams. Encouraging collaboration and teamwork amongst team members can spur innovation and creativity while fostering trust and building morale between co-workers.

Collaboration can be facilitated with the use of team-building activities, project scoping sessions or weekly meetings with departments, and team members. Encouraging shared ownership on team projects motivates employees to take the initiative to perform better and allows for all voices to be heard, leading to better creative output overall.

Embrace Flexibility

Flexibility is vital to employee happiness in remote work settings. Embracing flexibility encourages employees to take ownership and responsibility over their work schedules, leading to increased productivity and a better work-life balance.

Managers can encourage flexible work hours by establishing core hours for teamwork and other shared activities, then allowing team members the flexibility to choose when they want to work. Promoting flexible working practices means that employees can work on their own schedules, enabling them to achieve a healthy work-life balance and promote their well-being.

Personalize the Work Experience

Personalizing the work experience is an effective way to promote goodwill in the remote team work culture. Every team member is unique, with different backgrounds and preferences. Personalization creates a work environment that fits each employee’s individual needs and strengthens morale.

Personalizing the work experience can be done by providing employees with a Personal Development Plan that is tailored to their strengths and weaknesses. Managers can also design rewards and recognition programs that have a personal touch to them, making employees feel valued and appreciated.

Encourage Shared Learning

Encouraging shared learning is an excellent way to foster a culture of continuous improvement. Learning is not limited to training courses and traditional methods of growth. Learning can come in different forms, such as best practices, case studies, and whitepapers.

To encourage shared learning, managers can hold regular educational sessions where team members can share their knowledge and expertise. For instance, a company can organize a weekly webinar on industry topics, allowing team members to get up to date on current trends and news.


Creating a cohesive and productive remote-first team requires a shared understanding of the team’s goals and values, clear communication, and access to reliable tools that can help team members remain connected and focused. Remote work comes with several challenges, but with the right strategies in place, creating a cohesive culture that encourages productivity, fosters trust, and sharing information can be achieved.

Utilizing the various tools available, following best practices, such as effective communication, and regularly soliciting feedback can support remote teams to build a culture where everyone feels connected, motivated, and unified.

Remote work offers many benefits to both employers and employees, and it is essential to ensure that employees working in this way feel supported and valued. By establishing best practices and utilizing the latest technology, employers can create a remote-first team that is prepared to face the challenges of today’s work environment with confidence.

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