The last few years have seen a massive shift in the global workplace environment, thanks to modern technology. More and more companies are implementing flexible work arrangements with 43 percent of American employees working remotely in some capacity. Gone are the days when your team is required to work from the traditional business office environment. Now it has become more popular to have some or the entire workforce working from home or co-working spaces.

Remote work has quickly become the new standard by which modern businesses operate and teams collaborate. For many companies around the world, the traditional workplace environment has transformed into a virtual workspace. With this paradigm shift, managers have to reinvent team culture and create a remote work plan that will ensure effective business communication and collaboration.

Team culture is crucial to the success of your remote business because when your employees feel connected and appreciated, team morale and happiness skyrockets. They feel comfortable giving feedback and contributing ideas, thereby boosting productivity. That said, studies have shown that highly engaged, trusted, and valued employees are more loyal, productive, and retainable. You want to ensure your team culture encourages employee engagement through autonomy, transparency, trust, and satisfaction. Here are five ways you can improve team culture for your remote business.

Incorporate Some Team Building Activities

The last thing you want is to have your remote employees feel isolated and disconnected from each other. Your remote workers need a comfortable and collaborative team environment they can rely on. And since they’re working virtually, the workplace can only become a happier place when team members achieve deeper bonds with each other and feel like they’re part of a community. This is where virtual team-building exercises come in.

One of the best virtual team-building activities is hosting a live virtual game night where team members play classic board games, trivia contests, or any other online game. Perhaps winning employees or teams can score cheap custom backpacks (check out online stores like DiscountMugs for cost-efficient customizable products). Other engaging exercises include having a movie night once a week, planning an elaborate meal with the team, remote book clubs, happy hour night, bucket list sharing, and remote scavenger hunts.

Team building activities will allow your employees to get to know each other better, add some fun elements to their work, and help develop successful team camaraderie and collaboration. As a result, your remote business will achieve higher employee engagement, better team cohesion, improved productivity, less disconnected feelings, and reduced turnover rate.

Give Ownership to Your Team Members

As a business leader, you must understand that no one likes being micromanaged. In fact, employees want to feel a sense of ownership over their day-to-day work and their company. And when they feel their work isn’t as engaging or fulfilling as it could be, they become demoralized and less productive at their job. You want your employees to make the right decisions at all times- including when no one is watching over their shoulder. And that means allowing them to be guided more by their personal values and less by your company rules.

First, make sure everyone in your team feels like they belong. Your team culture should allow everyone to be their authentic selves so they can bring their best ideas and work to your business. Secondly, get your employees’ input on the things that affect their individual and team tasks. You want your team to have a say on the projects, processes, and strategies that impact their work. Finally, take the time to align the work being done with your objectives. When your employees understand how their work connects to the bigger goal of the organization, they’re likely to develop a sense of ownership and be more accountable.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Without effective communication, your remote business will fail. It’s your duty to ensure everyone feels connected, and that means maintaining effective communication in your team. Take the time to clearly communicate each employee’s job responsibilities to avoid confusion within the team. To ensure collaboration, you need to provide your remote team with the right communication tools. Communication solutions that remote businesses can use include Zoom, Slack, and Chanty. You can use either of these tools for shoutouts, casual interactions, company updates, and any announcements to your team.

Introduce a Feedback Process in Your Team

It’s almost impossible to boost employee productivity and efficiency when they have no idea what they’re doing right and wrong. You need to identify the areas of opportunities in your employees’ work to get them to improve or adjust their style of working. You can’t run away from performance reviews if you want to improve team culture. Remember your team members can’t make any changes when they don’t know there are inefficiencies in their work. Establish a culture of open dialogue, where you provide your team with constructive feedback and also take the time to listen to their ideas. Ask them what they think you could do to support them better in their work.

Give Recognition and Acknowledgement

There’s no hope of improving team culture if your team members don’t feel recognized, appreciated, and valued for their work. As mentioned, remote workers become more engaged when they feel empowered, appreciated, and trusted. Not only should you introduce a feedback process in your team but also take the time to recognize and acknowledge each employee for their commitment to their work.

Something as simple as appreciating an employee in front of the whole team goes a long way to boost their productivity and efficiency at work. The employee feels that their efforts and contributions to the team are valued and strive to even do better. Moreover, the rest of the team members feel inspired to do their best to achieve their set targets. This will eventually improve team culture and promote a healthy work culture in your remote business.

Michael Zhou is a Senior VP of Business Intelligence Development and has assisted the Fortune 1000 company with expertise in the web as a whole, including ground-zero marketing efforts that benefit both consumer and vendor. He is also contributor on Esprittoday.

Remote team stock photo by Ingo Bartussek/Shutterstock