Learning new things is always a challenge. And they’re even more of a challenge when everyone has to learn them all at once. Imagine working for a company where everyone was hired within a week. No one would have any support or experience. It would be chaos!
That’s the way many companies felt when they had to make the switch to remote work at the beginning of the pandemic. Everyone was scrambling, very few were prepared, and there were many mistakes, followed by halted projects, increased frustration, and uncertainty.
As with many things, it helps to model yourself after those who have been successful in doing what you’re attempting to do. And while you may have worked out the major kinks in the first few months of working remotely, it pays off to delve deeper and take a look at the foundation of how you’re running your remote team.
Here are four traits that successful remote teams have in common.
1. Individual empowerment
For remote employees to be their most effective, they need to have a fair amount of freedom to take the lead on their work. Managers and team leaders aren’t as available to hop on issues and get questions answered as they would be in an office. Allowing your team members the leeway they need to find the answers to their own questions, create direction for themselves, and take the initiative whenever they can will help them in more ways than one. Having the ability to take the initiative will:
- encourage employees to take more ownership over their tasks
- motivate employees to become self-sufficient, creating room for professional development
- urge team members to reach out to one another (instead of the boss) for direction and help, increasing collaboration and team involvement
- create a more efficient team that only brings challenges to the boss once they’ve run out of ideas and solutions, freeing up time for the team leader to focus on their own work
2. Time for fun
Like any on-site team, your remote workers need time to relax in a social environment with each other. Creating a virtual happy hour, end of week check-in meeting, or virtual games can help your team feel more connected and engaged with one another.
People working remotely who say they struggle with it often point to feeling isolated and disconnected. Successful remote teams take this seriously and make efforts to create time for employees to connect. Even if you don’t have a weekly happy hour on your calendar, consider encouraging your team to take a minute or two to chat about non-work related things before a meeting begins, just like you would do in person. This practice creates a critical moment of social connection and mental break from an otherwise quiet and focused day.
3. Strong core values
One of the most effective ways to help your team stay aligned and engaged with your company is to develop them around a set of core values that your company holds. Integrating your company values into your onboarding process, your communication, your goals, and your employee (and customer) experience is a wonderful way of creating a mental foundation for your employees to work off of.
When your employees are familiar with your company’s core values, they can make informed decisions around how they should approach challenges and problems, meet their own goals, and set expectations around how they should be working on their team. Strong core values create a roadmap for employees to follow that provides clarity and a sense of understanding around their function within your organization. This is particularly important with remote employees who need a strong connection with your company to feel connected in their roles while working from home.
4. Work-life balance
While working from home can lead to increased productivity and engagement, it can also mean that employees struggle with creating boundaries between work and their personal lives. Without the physical distance between home and office, there is a literal lack of separation between work and life that remote workers experience daily. Employees who can’t step away from their work while at home may start to burn out.
Set very clear boundaries around when employees should be available. Encourage your team leaders not to answer or send emails after 5:00 pm and to discourage their team members from doing so. Work a healthy work-life balance into your core values and set the expectation that your employees don’t work on their days off or in their free time. Boundaries will help employees feel more comfortable stepping away from their work and allow them to take the time they need to lead a healthy life.
Keep on keeping on
As you continue down the road of remote work, check in frequently with your team to find out what is and isn’t working. Keep a running list of the challenges your employees come across and check back with them about their progress. Keep tabs on what other companies are doing and look for new solutions and ideas to keep your team fresh, engaged, and happy. Like anything, it takes practice, patience, and perseverance. Keep working at it, keep talking to your team, and keep trying new things. Eventually, you’ll find your swing.
Photo by alphaspirit
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