Flex Basics
March 1, 2024

4 Strategies for HR Leaders to Maximize the Distributed Value of Remote and Hybrid Teams

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Lia Sadia
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The remote and flexible work world is still a new frontier for many of us, including HR leaders responsible for implementing these policies. While many cited benefits exist, remote and flexible work models also bring fresh challenges. Without deliberate efforts, remote work arrangements can unintentionally hinder connection and innovation, making employees feel isolated without natural office interactions.

In this uncharted territory, many HR leaders often overlook critical strategies that can significantly boost connection and maximize the intrinsic value that comes from a distributed employee base. In an era where creativity is a prized asset, varied perspectives and minds are indispensable. Adopting a flexible work environment provides a unique opportunity to cultivate a rich blend of ideas originating from a workforce across different locations and backgrounds.

With that in mind, here are four strategies to empower HR leaders to maximize connection and innovation in distributed organizations.

Four Strategies to Maximize the Value of Distributed Teams

1. Fuel Collaborative Innovation

Innovative ideas often emerge from casual conversations and spontaneous interactions, both of which are harder to replicate in remote settings. While it may be tempting to have teams use virtual meetings as the solution, there are broader challenges that must be addressed first.

Consider these two tactics:

Be Deliberate in Team Creation
Innovation thrives when different perspectives collide. But in a remote setting, it can be awkward or uncomfortable for team members to connect beyond the direct team members they interact with on a daily basis. To combat this, organizations should purposely pair together team members from different departments when opportunities arise to work on an innovative project. Teams with varied experiences unlock innovation by merging their distinct viewpoints. This composition would lead to a richer range of insights compared to a team of like-minded individuals.

Make Time to Celebrate Innovation
Remote workers don’t get the benefit of seeing real-time reactions from their colleagues when there’s an occasion for celebration. In a remote setting, organizations must make a deliberate effort to bake these moments into their ongoing events. If you’re hosting a virtual hackathon, including an ‘Innovation Fair’ to showcase ideas. This not only nurtures a culture of appreciation, but also highlights the value of different perspectives in driving innovation.

2: Expand Your Talent Reach

Organizations that are comfortable with distributed work implement practices that enable teams to collaborate effectively regardless of distance. That enables teams to hire more widely across time zones and geographies.

With geographical constraints out of the picture, expand your recruitment efforts globally. Engage in online job fairs and utilize global job boards to attract a broad spectrum of candidates. Not only will these candidates have different skill sets; they’ll also come from different parts of the world with different experiences that may help you better understand customers in that region.

By being strategic when sourcing and hiring for remote or distributed roles, organizations can assemble distributed teams that harness the power of varied experience to drive innovation.

3. Cultivate a Sense of Belonging in a Digital Space

In a remote work environment, team members primarily interact through digital channels, which often lack the richness of face-to-face communication and informal interactions. Additionally, the geographical dispersion of team members can lead to feelings of isolation and disconnectedness.

Here are some ways to help teams connect across time zones and distance:

Encourage Open Dialogue on Work Practices
Make it commonplace for teams to discuss team member expectations on work. Team members in different regions of the world may have very different expectations of work hours or what it means to be on / offline. Create open space to discuss and align on practices will help team members be more attuned to each others’ expectations and needs, which leads to a greater sense of team cohesion.

Encourage Cultural Sharing
Start a Slack channel for open discussions on various topics around different cultures and travel experiences. These forums help team members open up about their part of the world and their lives outside of work, which facilitates connection, understanding, and respect.

Monitor Sentiment With Anonymous Pulse Surveys
Use tools like OfficeVibe to regularly send pulse surveys to help surface issues early before problems emerge. Check the sentiment monthly of the highest and lowest scores from the survey and create action plans to improve.

With intentional efforts to promote open dialogue, gather feedback, and provide support, companies can nurture a strong sense of belonging among remote / distributed employees.

4. Make Conscious Efforts to Scale Your Culture Globally

The limited personal interactions and the absence of physical presence inherent in remote work can hinder the development of a cohesive and consistent workplace culture. These challenges are not novel, but addressing them in a remote setting requires a heightened level of intentionality.

Remind Values Actively in the Virtual Space
Core values erode in distributed teams if not continuously reminded. In an office, your company’s values are displayed right on the walls for everyone to see, but in a remote setting, it can be easy for employees (figuratively and literally) to lose sight. With our team, we’ve integrated a quick values workshop in our weekly meeting to engage with employees to share examples of the values in action during the week and give feedback accordingly.

Mentoring & Sponsorship
Develop virtual mentorship and sponsorship programs to support employees across the organization. These programs help senior team members connect with junior team members, and for employees in different parts of the world to build relationships. Ultimately, initiatives like these help employees stay connected and bridge gaps in a valuable way.


Remote and distributed teams experience some challenges inherent in not having a central gathering place daily for all team members. At the same time, there are huge upsides to operating this way that can drive tremendous value and innovation.

To meet these challenges head-on, HR leaders should invest in fueling collaborative innovation, expanding talent reach, cultivating a sense of belonging, and scaling culture globally.

The ability to tap into varied talents and ideas has never been more critical in an era where innovation is currency. By implementing these strategies, HR leaders can play a pivotal role in ensuring that the remote workspace becomes a thriving hub of creativity, productivity, and connection.

About the Author

Lia Sadia

Lia Sadia is the CMO of Remote Skills Academy, a Non-Profit Organization committed to providing digital skills education to youth and young mothers. The Academy empowers them to learn to work online, build successful remote careers, and lead life on their own terms.

Explore collaboration opportunities by visiting the Remote Skills Academy website or email her lia@remoteskills.academy.

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