How to build an effective remote team
— January 29th, 2020
Due to the evolution of technology, and easy access to information and resources, remote working has become a possibility for millions of people around the world.
Hiring employees to work remotely offers businesses the advantage of selecting from a much larger talent pool. Remote working also has a positive impact on employee productivity, happiness, and work-life balance.
In a recent survey, 65% of participants said they desired to be full-time remote workers, even after the pandemic, with a further 31% saying they would like a hybrid remote working situation. These statistics highlight that remote working is not a fad and is something that’s here to stay long-term.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that remote working does not come without its challenges, especially for employers who may be more accustomed to dealing with workers face-to-face in traditional office environments.
Common issues that arise when managing remote teams include a lack of effective communication, projects not being completed on time, and trouble monitoring employee efficiency.
Digital engagement strategies for remote workers and furloughed team members
Building remote teams
Fortunately, there are a number of useful tactics that can be utilized to overcome remote team-building issues, bring remote teams together, and explain how best to manage them. They include:
Establishing Clear Guidelines & Expectations
The most important step in establishing an effective remote working team is ensuring employees are aware of what is expected of them.
Organizations can achieve this by setting clear guidelines for remote workers to follow.
These guidelines should allow employees to be just as certain of their objectives when working from home, as they would be working from the office.
If employees understand their duties and responsibilities, it will improve their levels of productivity and quality of work significantly. Employers should ensure their workers are aware of:
- Set work hours and what times they should be online
- How often they should check-in with their supervisors
- If they are expected to track their own hours
- The company's goals for both individuals and teams
- Who to contact for specific projects/issues
- Which means of communication should be used for different circumstances
Maintaining Engagement with Remote Teams
One of the major disadvantages of working remotely is that workers often suffer from a sense of isolation and disconnect.
These feelings of isolation will have a negative impact on employee morale and motivation, ultimately having a damaging effect on business.
To counteract such issues, organizations should maintain regular engagement with remote employees. This can be achieved by:
- Holding routine (weekly or monthly) department meetings
- Having one-on-one check-ins with individual employees
- Organizing monthly company-wide meetings
Providing Employees with the Right Tools
When remote teams have the correct set of tools at their disposal, it greatly impacts how well the team functions as a whole.
Businesses should focus on implementing tools that help employees increase communication, manage tasks, and share information.
Selecting the best tools to utilize will vary depending on business size and industry.
It’s useful to keep in mind that some tools may be required by the entire remote workforce, while others may only be useful to certain teams and individuals.
Setting up Reliable Communication Channels
Lack of communication is one of the most common issues that arise in remote teams.
As strong and effective communication is the key to business success, it is vital that remote workers have efficient methods of staying connected, now that talking to each other in person is not an option.
Thankfully, now more than ever, there is an abundance of tools and technology available such as email, instant messenger, and project management software, that organizations can implement to make it easy for remote teams to stay connected.
How to Create a Community Remotely?
Create Spaces for Bonding
When working in an office setting, it is easy for workers to build strong relationships with each other, but when it comes to working from home, developing these relationships becomes significantly more difficult.
Organizations must actively work on ways to keep their employees engaged with one another. One effective way of doing this is to create an online chat, not one to be used for discussing work-related matters, but one in which employees can chat more informally.
Similarly, hosting virtual lunch or coffee breaks is a great way for employees to socialize with each other throughout the workday.
Hold Inclusive Activities
Putting together activities for remote workers can be a great way of building connections and feelings of inclusivity.
Team building activities can include setting a fun company-wide target. Fitness challenges and wellness sessions are some examples of activities remote workers can partake in together.
Reach out Often
Regularly reaching out and getting in touch with remote workers is a great way for employers to show their employees that they are not being overlooked.
If employees feel a lack of communication from management, they may feel their work is not being appreciated and that they are just another cog in the machine.
Instant messenger, video calls, or even regular phone calls are all great ways to get in touch with workers.
Likewise, giving employees the opportunity to provide feedback by listening to any opinions, concerns, or suggestions they have, will ensure they feel seen and supported.
Companies that employ both in-house workers and remote employees must ensure that those working from home are kept up to date on company news, updates, and announcements, just as well as those situated in the office.
Remote workers should never hear company news that is passed on through a colleague. If a business aims to build a strong remote working community, then it must treat remote employees as an integral part of the company.
Setting up universal channels that both types of workers have access to is the perfect way of doing this, as there will be no disconnect between what the office knows and what remote workers know.
How to Make Remote Working Fun?
Celebrate Special Occasions: Setting up a calendar of upcoming special events is a great way of inciting excitement and a sense of togetherness in employees.
Companies should get creative and think of ways employees can celebrate these occasions remotely over video calls.
For example, at Halloween, they could encourage workers to decorate their workspaces, dress up, or take part in a specialized quiz.
Organize a Book Club: Setting up a book club for remote workers is another fun way of bringing people together. Employers should let workers have a say in which books they will read and organize a set time for a video chat, where everyone can share their thoughts and opinions.
Implement Buzz Days: This is a tactic that is not only fun for employees but can also boost productivity levels.
Buzz days revolve around employers setting tasks for workers to complete in order to receive a prize.
For example, the first person to complete a certain challenge may be awarded a small bonus or get to finish the day 15 minutes early.
Create Weekly Slideshows: Incorporating a weekly slideshow is the perfect way for remote workers to become more familiar with each other. Including a ‘meet your peer section’ will allow everyone to get to know one of their co-workers more in-depth and shine a light on common interests.
Other sections in the slideshow could include self-care tips, company news, upcoming birthdays, and much more.
When employers take the right approach to managing remote workers, it not only helps them create an effective and productive remote team, but it also offers their remote employees a strong community that provides them with a sense of inclusion, purpose, and motivation.
Having this high level of job satisfaction will result in employees being more dedicated and motivated as they carry out their duties, and employers will see the effort they put into making remote working a success reflected back to them in the company’s achievements.