3 secrets to building culture with a distributed team

Ryan Johnson of Upwork, a global platform that connects clients with freelancers, knows something about the value of distributed teams and the future of work.

In the United States alone, according to a recent study by Upwork and the Freelancers Union, 54 million Americans spent some time working as freelancers and that many more companies are moving to a distributed workforce model.

Being a distributed company themselves and working with companies such as Automattic (the creator of Wordpress), which has a fully distributed workforce across 45 countries, Upwork has learned a lot about what it takes to make this work effectively.

In this talk from Relate Live San Francisco, Ryan discusses the three secrets to building a face-to-face culture with a distributed team (summarized here).

  1. Forge strong connections with team members online and off: Don't hope that connections happen—make them happen. Introduce new team members with a full bio and then an all company text chat to provide everyone with the opportunity to get to know the new person. Use video streaming for all meetings if possible. Get together in person with the whole team or company at least once a year to help create bonding experiences and develop lasting relationships.

  2. Create a structure where culture can thrive: Set up your company to make the distributed model work. Find the kind of employees who are the right fit for distributed work and put the tools and processes in place to ensure great ongoing communication and collaboration.

  3. Foster a sense of appreciation: Create rewards and recognition programs to celebrate people who achieve key business goals, create an exceptional customer experience, and act on your company's values.

This session was recorded on May 12, 2016.


You can also find more tips and best practices for managing virtual teams in the Successfully building and managing a virtual customer service team leadership guide.

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