Cultivating strong team culture in the workplace

Virtually, in-person or hybrid. All rely on the power of people.

People are the lifeblood of a successful company, and having a happy and effective team is something all managers (and, of course, the team themselves) strive towards. Whilst there is a slight shift back to the ‘old normal’, no matter your teams working situation, it is still as important as ever to ensure you are feeling content.

Whilst many of the factors contributing to a positive team culture are the same, hybrid working presents a different set of challenges which need to be considered for teams to work cohesively.

Whether you are looking to bring your teams back to the office full-time, part-time or not at all, it is important to consider the implications on team dynamics to maintain productivity in the workplace, retain a skilled workforce, and care for your employees wellbeing and resilience.

How to overcome communication barriers

Virtual teams communicate primarily through electronic means. There is no opportunity to speak face to face – Zoom and Microsoft Teams, whilst amazing technology, do not allow for the intricacies of communicating directly. Without support, teams working virtually may:

  • Be less likely to share information and updates
  • Find it difficult in interpreting information they receive
  • Share less feedback, positive or constructive, or send none at all
  • Misinterpret non-verbal such as attentiveness, tone of voice and hand movements

Whilst some of these situations may happen in office, particularly in larger buildings, all of the above can negatively impact on the three key components that create effective team dynamics. These three elements are outlined below and are intrinsically linked, no matter how your teams work.

Social cohesion

Put simply, this is the ‘team building’ element. Building a positive team culture can be tough at times and can be more difficult in a hybrid/remote setting. Social cohesion is directly related to results in the workplace and shows when teams are feeling close to each other, feel capable to speak freely and are friendly.

Building trust

As with social cohesion, strong trust will lead to stronger communication and lead to super effective team. People work best when they know they can trust their colleagues with information, and feel more committed to the company, and each other.

There is a stronger need than ever to rely on trust when working remotely to overcome the potential misunderstandings that may occur when relying on virtual means of communication.

Effective information sharing

Teams are built to not only share the workload, but also to harness each individuals strengths and weaknesses to create a strong unit. This is done by sharing information with each other with trust and cohesion playing an equally important role leading to this action.

Information sharing can be cyclical. By helping each other and creating a common goal, this also helps build trust and social cohesion, further reinforcing the team. The lack of, can do the opposite, and lead to a lack of trust due to misunderstanding and the feeling of being ‘left in the dark’.

The challenges here are much different when working in the office or at home. The opportunity for casual chat in the office encourage information sharing (although official means such as meetings are equally important – to the chagrin of some) whereas people are less likely to have informal chats when working virtually.

Whilst holding meetings virtually will allow key information to be shared between the teams, it is as important to ensure your teams are comfortable and confident to discuss other topics such as their weekend plans or their favourite shows.

To conclude, no matter what your companies plans now and in the future, it is important as a manager and as a member of a team to understand the power of these three factors. Nobody wants to work in an environment where they cannot trust, communicate or rely on their teammates. Earlier, we referred to people being the lifeblood of the organisation, but it is the leaders and human resource department that act as the heart that pumps and empowers their teams to be high performers and work ‘as a team’.

Creating high performing teams

Looking to improve team performance? Our module Unlock the Value of High Performing Teams supports both leaders and individuals to understand how to increase team motivation, develop team trust and rapport, improve communication and deliver improved performance and results in every virtual or face-to-face interaction.