Teams, remote or not, can struggle to build a cohesive culture and unified identity. Sharing an office makes team bonding easier, there’s no questioning that. So, how do you build a cohesive culture and identity as a remote team?

First, it’s important to realize how co-located teams build culture and their identities. Bonding experiences in shared spaces are commonplace, helping create a unified team identity. A more cohesive identity helps lay the groundwork for culture and stronger product.

On remote teams, bonding experiences are harder to come by, but they aren’t impossible. Meeting with a nearby team member for coffee is a great way to bond as a remote worker, as is planning a team trip. In the end, these are all planned experiences that take time out of your workday.

At RemoteHQ we’ve found a simple trick that ensures we’re building a team identity all the time. What is that trick?

At first glance, it almost seems obvious. You’re thinking, “of course I mention my team members”, but are you really?

The current remote toolkit makes mentioning easier than ever, and yet, for most teams, it’s an overlooked feature.

The benefits of mentioning might seem worth overlooking, but they add up over time. In the long run, mentioning…

  • … makes team members feel more connected. When you give kudos, or a shoutout, to a specific team member, you’re cementing that they’ve done a good job. Not only are you cementing it in concept, but that mention is discoverable in the future as well.
  • … serves as a tracker. Mentioning is a great way to keep track of who built a specific feature, fixed a specific bug, etc. It’s an easy way to track involvement, as well as the skill-sets of specific team members.
  • … makes issue-resolution easier. It’s easier to assign issues when you know what makes each team member tick. When you have a better perspective on your team members, your product is sure to reflect that.
  • … fits within your team framework. Mentioning is becoming inherent in products used by [remote] teams. If you’re using a product that doesn’t have a mentioning feature now, you can bet it will soon.
  • … serves as a way to connect. On larger teams, mentioning one team member might lead to a snowball effect. By sharing a message like “Glad, @Tom, helped launch that feature” — the team now knows Tom’s skill-set and the role he plays. Where I may not have interacted with him beforehand, I now have a reason too.

As mentioned, the toolkits used by many teams make mentioning easier than ever, here are a few:

Inside of any channel, typing @ followed by a team member’s display name (or full name) will let you tag members directly. This sends them a ‘personal’ notification (a number vs. a red dot) — and their tag is also viewable as a Thread!

Within Trello cards, typing @ will prompt a list of if you Trello board participants you can tag within a comment or card. Similar to Slack, mentioning team members generates a notification for anyone directly tagged!

Using @ on GitHub within an issue or pull request immediately notifies your team member, tags them, and subscribes them to updates.

Within any workspace, just type the @ symbol to mention one of your team members to trigger a notification on their end.

Regardless of your team’s toolkit, mentioning your team members is a great way to make your team stronger. When you go to send your next Slack message, try giving a team member kudos because they did something great.

I’d like to mention and give kudos to my teammate, Trevor Suarez, for proposing this great tip to our team!