Today, Rob Napier had some great thoughts on remote culture.

(emphasis mine)

“The best remote cultures I’ve been in had most or everyone remote, or they at least pretended they did. For example, one team I was on dramatically improved its remote culture when the “on site” team started calling into meetings from their desks rather than getting together in room. One of my favorite executives used this for the big all-hands meetings. Even though he was in San Jose with much of the team, he would go to a separate room and do a video stream from there. That meant all questions were on equal footing; it wasn’t 10 from people in the room, and then “anything from folks on the phone?”

Agreed that getting together occasionally is very valuable. I’ve always said that team building cannot occur in any place that does not have beer. You don’t have to drink the beer; that’s not the important part. But I’ve never seen it occur in a place that didn’t have it. (I like to tell the story this way, and it’s a good rule of thumb, but the real underlying lesson is that team building happens best in places with a mix of unstructured and semistructured interaction. Excessive structure is the bane of team building, and totally unstructured tends to just reinforce existing relationships. Activities with excessive structure are highly anti-correlated with locations with beer. Thus “beer is necessary but not sufficient for effective team building.”)

I especially like to get teams together for a few days, up to a week, at the beginning of some large project, which for most teams translates roughly to 1-2 times a year. Sadly, I have only been on a couple of teams willing to do that (and it usually stopped when budgets got tight), but it was highly effective.”

Here it is again in image form:

Remote culture