How to make new remote engineers feel like part of the team

April 4, 2024
Reading time: 4 min

Yes, we know, in-person or hybrid work can be much more effective than remote in creating strong connections and mutual commitment. Still, if you make the effort good remote teams can become much more united and aligned than mediocre onsite teams.

After 20 years of staffing our employees in offshore companies, we know a thing or two about doing it right.

How to Build Team Spirit Remotely: 6 Tips for New Dev Hires

Here are some of the lessons we’ve learned the hard way:

1. Erase the "Remote" Tag

One of the first things to learn is never, and we mean never, refer to your team based on their location or the fact they're remote.

Why? Because calling someone "the remote guy" or "the team in the USA" feels impersonal. Instead, dive into those project names or just use their names or ask the team to create a nickname for it. It's simple but wildly effective at breaking down those invisible walls.

2. Hangouts: Your Digital Campfire

Ever heard the phrase "out of sight, out of mind"? Well, that's the last thing you want your team to feel.

We recommend hosting monthly (or better - bi-weekly) hangouts where everyone — yes, even that guy who has to wake up at an ungodly hour — joins in to celebrate wins, share updates, and welcome newcomers.

Consider it a happy-hour type of event: offer people to get some drinks, crack jokes, and encourage the shy ones to speak. It's these moments that make people feel seen and heard.

3. Knowledge Sharing: Because Sharing is Caring

One of the trickiest parts of remote work is making sure people are helping each other. While in the office you can just lean over to ask a question, you can't do that when your teammate is 5,000 miles away.

Research shows that after we help people, especially with advice, we tend to like them even more. So not only do we help the team achieve its goals, but we also create strong bonds.

Encourage people to approach each other, ask developers to share learnings, and keep everyone in the loop. Yes, public displays of gratitude (in Slack or another platform of choice) are a great way to get more people onboard the sharing train.

4. Pair Programming: Cultivating Connections Through Code

Pair programming isn’t just about debugging; it’s about building bridges. It speeds up not just software development, but also mutual respect and commitment.

It’s a golden opportunity for team members to sync up, understand each other’s thought processes, and connect on the human level.

5. Trust and Respect: The Glue of Team Spirit

At the end of the day, it all boils down to trust and respect. You want your team to feel like they're part of something big, and not just cogs in a machine.

Trust boils down to a few basics: providing autonomy in tasks, acknowledging people’s contributions, fostering a supportive work culture, and punishing malevolence.

By implementing these strategies, you're not just improving work quality; you're creating a community. And that is the secret sauce to having a united and productive team.

6. Gamifying Teamwork

It's where tasks earn points, achievements unlock perks, and leaderboards spark a friendly rivalry that pushes everyone to do their best.

How about a monthly teamwork prize? Maybe an annual team challenge competition? It's more than just points and prizes; it's about crafting a narrative that turns collaborative efforts into a shared journey, complete with heroes, allies, quests, and victories.

By transforming work into a game, we tap into the intrinsic motivation that drives us to play. Just like gaming communities, where people enjoy healthy competition and cheer the winning teams, it can turn the remote work environment, often seen as isolated, into a vibrant community where every contribution matters and every achievement is celebrated.

Foster those tips, and you'll see your remote engineers transform before your very eyes and prosper. And do you know what is the most rewarding part? Witnessing remote engineers starting to feel like part of the crew.

Looking to hire committed and offshore engineers or organic developer teams? Give us a ping to see what teams are available today.

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