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Building a team culture among hybrid and remote workers

Remote and hybrid work models are here to stay. According to the Remote Work From Home ‘State of Remote Work in 2024’ report, hybrid jobs are expected to increase from 42% in 2021 to 81% in 2024. The report also highlights that almost a third of workers globally are employed by exclusively remote companies as of this year.

Are you dreaming of drafting emails by the seaside or closing deals via Zoom in your cosy mountain retreat? Or maybe your dream is to make money while being present for your children as they grow up. 

Welcome to the modern workspace revolution, where remote working is a lifestyle choice for professionals across sectors, such as the travel and marketing industries.

Anneri Papenfus, a seasoned independent travel consultant (ITC), reflects on her journey with Flight Centre Independent (FCI), highlighting the balance of autonomy and support:

“Joining FCI when I needed more flexibility after having kids allowed me to steer my business on my terms, yet I always felt part of a larger, supportive community.”

Dalize Etsebeth, another empowered ITC at FCI, shares, “FCI has a supportive and collaborative culture. Even though we work independently, there is a strong sense of community and mutual support amongst consultants.”

But beyond the freedom and countless other perks of remote and hybrid work, the same question often arises: how do you stay motivated and connected? Below, we dive into strategies and insider tips for nurturing a team culture no matter where you work. 

Strategies for thriving remotely

Did you know that remote workers are more productive than their in-office counterparts? This is because workers who are satisfied in their jobs tend to produce more – up to 31% more, according to The Harvard Business Review.

While increased productivity is part of the remote working package, there are ways to enhance your day-to-day further:

  • Embrace routine and boundaries: One of the main draws of remote work is working where and when you want—obviously, this is endlessly convenient. However, you’ll often find you’re more productive and inspired when you establish a daily routine with precise work hours and a dedicated workspace. This will also enhance your focus, reduce stress, and prevent burnout.
  • Power of rejection: Politely declining projects that don’t align with your expertise or capacity ensures quality service and personal well-being.
  • Stay inspired: Keep your passion for your job alive daily. For example, as an ITC, you could fill your workspace with travel-themed decor, listen to industry podcasts, and engage with online travel communities.
  • Connect with like-minded professionals: Regular virtual meet-ups or industry events can help share insights and experiences, nurturing a shared sense of purpose and belonging.

“At FCI, we ensure our independent consultants feel connected by creating and managing digital communities like WhatsApp and Facebook groups for support and information sharing. We also encourage ITCs who live in the same region to enjoy regular coffee meet-ups and attend hosted luncheons, we offer incentive trips and annual events, such as the annual global ball, where ITCs get together and form lasting personal and professional bonds,” comments Chantal Gouws, General Manager of Flight Centre Independent. 

Actionable tips for cultivating a remote team culture

There’s plenty of action to take if you’re a business owner orchestrating a team of remote workers. Here’s how to cultivate a positive team culture unaffected by distance:

  • Utilise practical communication tools: Platforms like Slack, Asana, and Teams can streamline collaboration and maintain regular contact.
  • Promote a mix of online and in-person interactions: Encourage sharing and community in digital forums and occasional face-to-face gatherings.
  • Celebrate collective and individual successes: Recognising achievements can significantly boost morale and reinforce a culture of appreciation and motivation.

In conclusion, the shift to remote work has unveiled new dimensions of freedom and flexibility, proving that professionals can create fulfilling careers outside of the confines of a traditional office with the right strategies and support. FCI exemplifies this by marrying independence with a robust support network, proving that a strong community and team culture can thrive even in a remote setting.

“At FCI, we’ve seen firsthand that when individuals are given the autonomy to work in a way that suits them best, coupled with unwavering support and a sense of community, they excel and help foster a vibrant, inclusive culture that transcends physical boundaries. This is the future of work – not isolated, but more connected and empowered than ever,” concludes Gouws. 

Quick fixes for team culture challenges in remote/hybrid work

Challenge: Communication breakdown

  • Quick fix: Implement regular check-ins and adopt communication tools that align with team needs.

Challenge: Isolation and disconnection

  • Quick fix: Foster social interactions through virtual coffee breaks, digital and in-person team-building activities, and informal catch-ups to build rapport and camaraderie.

Challenge: Overlapping work-life boundaries

  • Quick fix: Encourage clear work-hour guidelines, promote the importance of taking breaks, and support flexible scheduling to respect personal time.

Challenge: Keeping motivation and engagement high

  • Quick fix: Recognise achievements, set clear goals, and provide regular feedback to motivate and engage team members.

Challenge: Collaboration and trust building

  • Quick fix: Embrace collaborative project management tools and create opportunities for team members to work on joint tasks.
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