Your Questions Answered: Building Connection and Collaboration for Remote Teams

Whether your employees are across the hall or across the country, communication is the lifeblood that sustains any organization. But staying connected can be challenging. How’s it done? Good question: we’ve got answers.


Nearly half of Donut introductions are made between people in different time zones, which means we field our share of questions on how remote teams build culture and connection for their teams. So we turned to the experts at Buffer and Jostle to answer your burning questions during a live Q+A.

Watch the full recording HERE

#1 Stay Connected

As Bev Attfield from Jostle said, when it comes to introducing and acclimating employees to a company’s culture, the basic principles are the same whether everyone is remote or whether they’re all in a single office. It’s all about creating pathways of communication that are intentionally encouraged and sustained, making sure that each and every employee is made to feel included and embraced as an individual.

In addition, make an effort to disseminate company norms (whether in the form of a handbook or messaging relayed during onboarding), and actively encourage employees to gain institutional knowledge the old fashioned way: by talking to tenured employees as well as to one another.

Looking for something specific you can try? Nicole Miller from Buffer (a fully remote company) shared the success they’ve had with a program they call “1-on-1 Mastermind:” regularly pair people from different areas of your company on a peer level for informal hour long meetups to learn more about each other and the company.

Interested in creating something like this at your company? Visit our homepage to learn more about building a culture of connection.

#2 Helpful Tools for the Remote Workplace

Courtesy of Nicole Miller from Buffer: Slack for messaging, Zoom for video conferences, Trello, Notion, Dropbox Paper, and Donut for in-company connection opportunities.

A note on Encouraging Volunteer Activity for Remote Teams:

Sarah Arnold of Donut shared the idea of creating a specific volunteer channel (in Slack or whatever internal messaging app is used) for remote teams to post volunteer opportunities and events in their local community. Especially if employees go the extra mile of sharing photos, videos, or recaps of their experience in said channels the positive reverberations from these endeavors can be infectious, helping to create a sense of community and camaraderie that can be both influential and inspirational.

A Note on Dealing with Remote Managers:

Things can get interesting when it’s the manager, not the direct report, who is remote. Bev Attfield from Jostle recommends that companies invest in manager training programs, equipping managers with the tools they need to effectively communicate especially when there is a dearth of face time between managers and their employees.

Oh and another thing—do not rely on email for feedback.

#3 Dealing with Time Zones

Jostle uses an internal tool called “Tasks” to manage to-do lists for their teams, but also sited Trello and Basecamp as useful tools. In the end, it’s up to leaders to establish and maintain clarity around expectations and deliverables. Bev also cited the importance of psychological safety: “it’s invaluable to make clear that free speech and expression are a part of your culture, regardless of where your employees are and what time zone they are in.”