The end of the current pandemic is nowhere in sight, which means that remote work is likely to remain the default for most companies. The Atlantic reports that remote work policies are already shaping where people move, and what they do in their spare time. Simply put, people are getting used to working remotely.
This shift to remote work has also led to a demand in organizations that are willing to offer remote work options, as doing so has been shown to help improve workforce morale, employee job satisfaction, and productivity. However, the problem is that there are challenges unique to the work from a home model, and they can potentially undo the benefits of remote work.
One big challenge, in particular, is building remote teams that are not only productive and connected but also growing and developing — both individually and as a unit.
The reason it is so challenging is the distance, which makes it difficult to provide hands-on supervision, in-person learning sessions, and team-building activities.
Like every other challenge, though, there are ways to address said issue, and you can start by implementing the following tips:
Set clear expectations
Tech columnist Jason Aten emphasizes how remote workers need to know what you expect from them before the work-from-home arrangement officially begins. He states that not only should you be able to deliver clear project briefs and deadlines, but you should also be able to communicate the reasoning behind them.
This also creates set guidelines that you yourself can reference when managing your team. This way, you’ll know exactly what to expect from your team, and they know what to do in return.
Make communication lines clear
Communication takes on an even greater role in work-from-home setups, as it is much harder to call emergency meetings or even have water cooler chats.
This is why you must ensure there are good communication channels (e.g. email or internal communication apps such as Slack) and they are as streamlined as possible.
By doing this, you and your team will be able to communicate more efficiently, and in the process reduce affinity distance — the kind of distance where team members have disparate values, as well as low levels of trust and interdependency.
Reducing affinity distance, in turn, builds team-wide trust that ultimately results in unity and teamwork (which can boost productivity).
Lean on technology for team building
Building an emotional connection between team members is key to a better bond. And you can do it via virtual team building, described by Fast Company as any other team-building activity, save for the fact that it is carried out on computers connected to the internet.
Using online tools that your company likely already uses, your team can take part in various online activities that can help foster a better emotional connection.
Foxy Bingo outlines how online quizzes can be facilitated over apps like Zoom and Skype, and they have become more popular as remote teams look for new ways to foster a positive and engaged company culture.
The best part is that you can get creative to compensate for distance constraints.
For instance, if you don’t want to play games you can simply organize virtual hangouts once in a while.
Offer a Variety of Learning Experiences
The phrase “out of sight, out of mind” can become dangerously true for managers leading remote teams. The fact that you can’t physically meet up with your team means you have to double-down on investing in employee experiences and keeping your team engaged.
Your remote team will need to learn and master a diverse set of digital skills (e.g. search engine optimization, social selling, content marketing, etc.) to be productive working from home, and you can provide workshops and seminars that allow them to build these new skills while keeping their minds sharp.
Look to leverage employee-generated learning content too, where you ask input from your team in creating training and development programs.
In doing so, you ensure that constant learning is taking place, and it will go a long way in promoting individual and team growth. Our post entitled Business Coaching: Things You Should Know About highlights how today’s business owners need to be constantly innovative and agile to meet with changes in workplace culture.
Since remote work isn’t going away any time soon, it’s in your best interest to figure out how to effectively manage your remote team.