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Plastic cups and string are not enough – Building a team over distance

Did you ever do that thing where you build a telephone out of two plastic cups and a piece of string? Sometimes team building and maintaining company culture can feel a little bit like using one. It works in principle but in practice it’s very easy for the message to get lost.


We expanded recently, and we now have teams reaching out into several employment areas. As a result, our employees have different skills, different approaches and, of course, this means different personalities and occasionally even methods of working. Our driving folks have a very different set of candidates and clients to our Healthcare people for example.

Our task (cue mission impossible theme) is to combine them into a single unit while maintaining the individuality they need to do their job effectively for our clients and candidates. Sounds complex, right? Well just to make it more interesting, because we do love a challenge here at 24-7 staffing, the team are now based on three different sites.


So how did we go about maintaining the team mentality? Well, we went back to basics and looked at our employees as people. We thought of them as individuals and simply asked ourselves what they would want and need to be part of our team. Once you get past the basic level of needs such as comfort and security, you find that acceptance and the feeling of belonging become very important. Anyone who has done business studies or similar will know I am now referring to Maslow's hierarchy of needs here. There is a case study below if you are not familiar with how it works.


Our company culture is very important to us. In a recent article, we talked about how the company culture makes employees more than just a paid pair of hands. It seemed clear then that we needed to ensure the access to our company culture to reinforce our team building.


Here are a few of the ways we helped things develop.

  • Face to face meetings are important, so we host regular business events and gatherings. Of course social events only provide a short-term boost and you should not overestimate them. The fun of the Christmas party will wear off pretty quickly in the January snow and of course, not everyone enjoys socials.
  • Culture is often enhanced over a cup of tea in a business, so allow the chat. When you have several offices, it is important that everyone feels included. "All team" emails and allowing the employees room to move that social aspect to electronic chat is important. Of course, it must be within reason, but as a rule people are self-limiting on how much they do.
  • Work is about ‘working’ for our employees because they are dedicated and applied, so we focus on giving them the tools they need to do the job such as professional development and training.
  • We have no favourite offices here. It doesn’t matter who is biggest, most successful or has the nicest décor. Every office is treated the same way by our management team, and that equality should then filter down to the people in each office.
  • Being seen really makes a difference. It’s a myth that nobody wants their managers around. In fact not only do they want them present and aware, but having managers who don’t understand their role is a major reason for people lacking job satisfaction.
  • Community is very important. We have always been committed to sharing our success back to the communities that give it to us. A show of commitment to our community is a show of commitment to our team.


If you are dealing with a set of remote, or semi-remote employees, we suggest you do what we did and go right back to the basics. Ask what your team needs and look to the things that reinforce your company culture. It is the culture that creates good teams, and good teams reinforce the culture. Once the cycle is there, you just need to maintain it.






Published by Harvey

over 10 years ago


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