Maintaining a “team” feeling while working remotely

Practice Management working remotely in a tax practice

Over the last several weeks, many tax and accounting firms have had to quickly shift from operating in an office to working from home. While most, if not all, of the work can be done from home, one thing that gets lost is maintaining a team feeling while working remotely. It’s very easy to be off on your island and not feel part of a team. Here are three ways to maintain your team culture.

Recreate the watercooler

When your team is in the office, they have a chance to socialize and catch up. People also have the ability to pop over to each other’s desks to ask quick questions or work together on client work. However, when you’re working remotely, you have to adapt to maintain those same communication lines.

This can be done by using software like Slack or Basecamp to provide communication channels. At Lance CPA Group, we use Basecamp. Through asynchronous messaging, we are able to keep in touch with each other very easily and efficiently. And, it’s not all about client work; as a way of connecting with each other on a personal level, we share funny videos and images, and pictures of our families. While we may not all be in an office, we can still socialize and connect with each other virtually, which helps us feel more like a team.

Meet over video

Another way to maintain a team feeling is to do all of your internal team calls on video. Whether it’s a one-on-one chat or your weekly team meeting, holding the calls on Zoom or Google Meet allows you to see each other and enable a more human feeling to your meetings.

We also do virtual video office hours with our team. For example, I’ll jump on a Google Meet and my team can pop into the session whenever they want to ask some questions or get help. In addition, meetings with clients work well over video, particularly if you just made the transition to a virtual and remote firm. Clients may not be used to this setup, so meeting with them virtually may make the transition easier.

Donuts in the conference room

When working in an office setting, inevitably there will be food shared with everyone. Whether it’s leftovers from a meeting, pizza lunches on Fridays or donuts brought in on Monday mornings, sharing food with each other is an act of community. However, when your team is remote, the simple act of gathering around a table can be completely lost.

Just because are aren’t together in person doesn’t mean you can’t achieve something similar:

  • Have virtual happy hours. Everyone gets on a video call with their drink of choice. The only rule is not to talk about work.
  • Have lunch together. We’ve given our team gift cards to their restaurant of choice and all have lunch together, virtually.

Making a quick transition to working virtually and remotely can be jarring for your team, and working remotely can feel isolating. However, implementing these three actions will lead to a better team culture and experience.

What are your tips to keep your team motivated and engaged? Share them below in a comment so we can share best practices.

Editor’s note: Visit the Intuit Accountant and Tax Professional COVID-19 Resource Center for information and tools to help you and your clients navigate these challenging times.