The remote model has been around for a while, by choice, for some business owners. But, if you’re like many, the option to have your team work remotely was not a decision you ever expected to make, and you may be seeing signs of a disconnect with your team.

While many are slowly going back to their offices on a limited basis, many company owners are making it work and may not ever choose to go back to the old “normal.” With this model, it opens up your hiring pool to recruit from anywhere, which means a distant location won’t hinder you from hiring top talent.

Your team may be productive, but how do you continue to nurture your company culture via a computer screen?

Especially when so many personalities are working together. Working under the same roof and maintaining a healthy interactive work environment can be challenging in itself. It’s now even more critical to engage with your team to ensure your business’s success while embracing your team’s diversity.

To follow are some ideas to consider to help extend your culture beyond your own four walls.

Balance the Level of Communication

Suppose you have a mix of in-person attendance, with some participants calling in remotely. Set up the protocol in advance for when it is OK for others to speak as it’s good etiquette and helps keep the meeting in order.

For instance, come up with something that allows the people on the phone to provide their input during a discussion.

If the meeting is virtual and you can see everyone, set up a system for physically raising your hand or using one of the “hand-raising” tools that come with many virtual platforms. Using this system will allow you, or a moderator, to place everyone on mute and then unmute once you call on them to communicate.

Avoid Side Bar Conversations

Sidebar conversations are one of the biggest distractions that can happen in a meeting. It is even more annoying if someone is listening on the conference line as it can drown out the voice of the person speaking. This best practice applies to virtual meetings as well. Unless it’s a meeting or event where networking is encouraged, it may be wise to disengage the ability to type in the “side chat” to ensure everyone is paying attention.

Train Your Team

Do you have a manager or other leader who effectively runs a productive and smooth meeting on your team?

Work with him/her to document and set up organized training to train everyone, and then whenever you onboard someone new or as a refresher for those that need it.

Encourage your managers to help engage with those not physically in the office. You may have several who are great at it, so take advantage of those examples and include them in the training document. These actions will help ensure a better sense of inclusion for your entire team.

Team Building Activities

Do you currently have outside activities, such as exercise or wellness programs for your employees? Even if you decide to do it virtually, many interactive programs allow you to build teams to participate as a group. If you have employees worldwide, this activity is a great way to engage in a non-threatening community.

Virtual Water Cooler

Some of the best conversations happen around the water cooler.

Help keep your culture thriving by bringing it online and setting up an internal intranet where everyone can share the personal side of themselves, such as their pets, shows they’re binge-watching, and what they did over the weekend. Some platforms can help you do this for free or for a nominal subscription.

Happy Birthday to You

Seeing everyone in person is so much more fun when the big day rolls around, but if you’re creative, you can still give your employee that lift by sending a gift card or singing happy birthday virtually as a group.

Face-to-Face is Invaluable

When possible, if you cannot hold in-person meetings, have even informal conversations via video to nurture the relationships and allow others to see body language.

This option will enable you to know that the other person(s) is genuinely engaged. By doing this, you empower your employees to interact and feel more like a part of your team.

There are many ways you can keep your employees happy with a sense of commitment to your company by making an effort to show you care. It may not always run smoothly, but they’ll appreciate the attention you place on creating a culture that builds balance and trust.