5 Famous Startups Share Their Best Team Building Tips

Carly Syms - VIP + Marketing Manager

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The first word that comes to mind when we talk about remote work usually isn’t team building. But coming together as a team is just as important for companies who have remote workers as it is for companies with location-based employees. Fun activities that promote communication help companies build strong, tight-knit teams and keep employees excited and happy! You might need to get a little more creative with your remote team bonding activities, but the investment will be worth it.

We asked 5 companies who are pros at managing remote workers how they keep their remote teams happy and hardworking. These unique remote team building tips are sure to inspire your employees, foster camaraderie, and drive success in the remote office.

A group gets ready to take on a team building scavenger hunt.
A group gets ready to take on a team building scavenger hunt.

The Experts Weigh In On Their Best Team Building Tips

1. Daily Touch Base Calls

“One of the most valuable things that we did was establishing a daily call rhythm. Every day at 10AM EST, we hop on a Slack call for a 10-minute stand up where we discuss what we did the day before, what we’re going to do that day, and any blockers that stand in our way. And on Mondays and Fridays, we take a little bit more time to chat about our weekends and personal lives. It’s super helpful for alignment, but more than that, it’s incredibly powerful to hear everyone’s voice every single day, as far as feeling like you “know” the people you’re working with.” – Alex Turnbull, CEO, Groove

2. In-person Meetings Once or Twice Per Year

“Although we’re remote, Sticker Mule tries to get everyone together once or twice per year. Usually we do it in smaller groups or teams as it’s hard to get everyone together since we’re spread out across the globe. Even if one team is meeting, we’ll bring as many people from other teams as possible.

These meetings run from a few days to a week. It’s funny, though, we often remark how unproductive it would be to meet more than twice per year. For the most part, our roadmap is so strong that in person meetings tend to just pile more ideas on our already large queue of work to be done. That said, many of our best ideas still come from us hanging out in person but we’re pretty happy about our ability to generate a solid action plan with limited face time. Our decision making principles have helped us move quickly through the ideas we generate during our team meeting.” – Sticker Mule

3. Innovative Spin on the Buddy System

“It can be hard to get to know remote teammates, especially as the team is growing. To counteract that, Zapier has a weekly team-wide activity called ‘Pair Buddies.’ Every Monday, a list of randomly paired teammates is posted to our internal blog. It’s up to each pair to schedule a time during the week that works for them (considering the time zones that our team spans) to have a short video call. Pair Buddies is a cool way to get to know about teammates’ interests outside of work and also to chat with teammates that you don’t work with directly.” – Carlin, Zapier

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4. Meet-ups for Just the Remote Team

“The best thing we’ve done as a remote team is go to meet-ups with just our team. In January, we all flew to San Diego to work and eat (meet-ups are also called eat-ups here at Basecamp) together for a week. A few members of the team stayed in a beach house (where we worked for the week) and the rest of us stayed in a nearby hotel. We worked together to fix up our help pages, chatted about a few stressors that we needed to address, and enjoyed each other’s company. Some of us did yoga on the beach, ran together along the waterfront, or worked poolside for a bit at the hotel. It was a nice and relaxing way to bond. We’re definitely a closer team because of it!” – Kristin Aardsma, Basecamp

5. Town-Hall Style Video Presentations & Weekly Video Calls

“10up has several ways we encourage team camaraderie across our 100% distributed agency. We maintain an internal company blog (to which everyone can post) and a weekly internal podcast, which highlights project successes and recognizes teammate achievements. Our company is structured into pods: multi-disciplinary teams centered around shared projects. Each team holds weekly pod video calls, monthly Q&A calls with our president and founder, and gets together in-person annually at pod meetups.

Our leadership hosts biannual “town hall”-style video presentations, providing updates to the entire company on business performance, project launches, and our strategic roadmap. Each town hall ends with a live Q&A session with the entire team. We also congregate en masse at our annual All-Company Summit, a weeklong private conference for knowledge sharing, team-building, and bonding with our teammates.” – John Ragozzine, 10up

Fostering teamwork and communication can be hard if your employees are in different time zones or only connect through email, but it isn’t impossible. Thinking outside the traditional-team-building-box is key! Remember, team building activities promote learning, critical thinking, and help boost morale. Don’t forget to invest in both small and large team building activities with your remote teams. Small weekly team building exercises in addition to larger planned events will make all the difference!


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