Today’s businesses rarely rely on the in-office teams they used to. In fact, with 70% of people working remotely at least once a week worldwide, the remote workforce is booming, a trend that will likely continue. However, there is a big difference between a remote team and a successful remote team. Loss of productivity, isolation, mental health issues, and lack of team cohesion are only a few of the problems remote workers face every day. Many of these issues are easily solved with fairly simple steps. Here’s how you can create a happy, successful remote team, whether they’re on the other side of the city or the other side of the world.
1. Have a clear line of communication
In business, communication is key. In-office workers live and breathe by this rule, and it applies to remote workers even more. Otherwise, it’s easy for your team to lose direction and clarity. Though great communication must come from both ends (management and workforce), it’s always best to lead by example and to lay out exactly how you expect to communicate with your team. Much of this comes from making the time to message, call, or check-in, but it is also about making it as easy as possible to communicate with each other. If emails take up too much time, send a voice note. If you need to hold a group meeting, schedule a group video chat that everyone can access.
2. Encourage and enable collaboration
When you have a small, in-office team, it is easy for employees to collaborate with each other and are more likely to get to know one another at the coffee machine or printer. When your remote workers all live in different parts of the world, collaboration becomes trickier y. Luckily, technology can make online collaboration not only doable, but refreshingly simple. It all starts with having a good communication tool, where your workers can talk to each other in a judgment-free zone. Some examples of these tools include Slack, Skype, Igloo Software, and even Zoom meetings. In this space, they can ask for help from other workers, or offer advice when someone else is stuck. It’s the perfect spot to brainstorm about projects, almost as if they were working in the same room. Collaboration tools work well for small teams, but larger teams may need to integrate collaboration with knowledge sharing, as is the case with Givitas. From here, workers can move onto key, collaborative tools to streamline the project process.
3. Work with clear goals
Despite 65% of remote workers claiming remote work gives their productivity a boost, it is no secret that they still struggle with motivation. Much of the time, this lack of motivation comes from not having any clear goals. Though it can be challenging to set clear goals when your workers don’t come into the office, it becomes easier when you establish a constant line of communication. Every day, send out some key goals you’d like your team to work towards, including feedback on their work and how they can improve. With larger projects, it may be better to set out these goals at the beginning of each month.
4. Build a community
Having a successful remote team isn’t just about encouraging remote workers to thrive individually. It is as much about getting them to work together to reach their goals. This is where teamwork and community comes into play. Though collaboration can form the foundation of creating a community, it is also important to be more intentional. Annual face-to-face team meetings allow workers to put names to faces and feel part of a united workforce. A more high-tech, convenient solution is Givitas, software that creates community by acting as a safe place to ask questions and a convenient place to offer advice and help.
5. Touch base in person
The current mental health crisis seems to be affecting remote workers more than most. In 2019, 49% of remote workers felt that their biggest struggles were wellbeing related, while 19% suffered from loneliness. Work, in general, has been linked to poor mental health, but it is easier to keep tabs on employees when they are coming into the office each day. As many bosses know, a happy workforce means a more successful workforce. Though giving your workers a remote community can help tackle this issue, it is also a great idea to have regular check-ins in person. This could be meeting to discuss business ideas over a coffee, a home or in-office visit, or even catching up at a work social. In any case, workers will know you have their best interests at heart and will be more motivated to be part of a successful team when they feel supported.
6. Always ask for feedback
Remote team success is as much about what your workers deem successful as what you do. The truth is that you need to keep your workers satisfied with their remote work arrangement. If they don’t, you might see them becoming disengaged. To avoid this problem, ask your remote team for regular feedback when you offer yours. Promoting free discussion results in a more comfortable, welcoming workspace. You might also find that your team has some excellent solutions that will help make them more successful.
About the Author
Gil Artmoore has spent the past decades working various roles in IT departments for many businesses, small and large. He recently started the things he’s learned, experienced, and witnessed in the small business/tech world during his career. He is eager to share my insights with the rest of the world.