darren-welcomeYou probably know that company culture is something I feel strongly about. That doesn’t change when team members work remotely. While there may be some additional challenges to face, you can still make everyone feel like they’re part of the team.

Below are a few easy actions that go a long way toward building the type of culture and morale every team dreams of.

Welcome new team members.

You can’t know what’s going on in an office if there is no office. So take some time to get to know your new hire. Ask them where they’re from, what they like to do for fun and what brought them into the mortgage business. Then welcome them aboard! Introduce your new team member via Zoom or email, and share (with their permission) a little about them.

Ask questions.

Zoom can be rough when you’ve got lots of voices on the line. Many people have thoughts they’d like to share, but we’ve all been in those meetings where five squares start to talk at once, it gets silent, it gets awkward and suddenly all the creativity has left the video conference. The best way to prevent this is to ask a certain team member for their thoughts, or to circulate an email that welcomes open-ended responses.

Set clear expectations.

Do you expect each team member to contribute a new idea during your Friday morning meeting? Then make sure they know that. It’s easy for team leaders and members to make assumptions about their workload, participation and obligations, especially when you’re not in the office. So be clear up front. If need be, set timelines or deadlines for certain tasks, such as answering questions via email or submitting paperwork to underwriting. Everyone functions better when they know what part they need to play.

Create a virtual water cooler.

We may no longer be standing around the Sparkletts tank discussing last night’s episode of Ozark, but that doesn’t mean we need to cease all friendly communication. Encourage your team to reach out to each other. Share workout routines and recipes. Send on funny (appropriate) memes. Whatever it is, encourage them to break up the monotony of the day by inserting a little fun into work hours. Oh, one last thing on this: you may also want to show employees how to mute conversations if, say, one email or text thread really takes off…but not everyone watches Ozark.

Call out success.

Like I said, it’s hard to know what’s going on in the office when you’re outside of the office. So make sure your team members receive their proper acknowledgment. Did someone save a transaction from falling apart? Did another go above and beyond to address a complicated borrowing scenario? Let the rest of the team know how stellar their co-workers are! Acknowledgment not only fosters goodwill, but it shows the other team members that, with a little effort and resolve, great things are possible.

Plus, it is during these times where challenges are overcome and victories are secured that you really see what your team’s culture stands for!

Regional Vice President - Southwest

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