With a growing number of team leaders facing the challenge of managing remote teams, it is important to understand what is needed for success and how the role differs from managing teams in a more traditional office environment.
A Gallup survey and report on the state of the American workplace, found that "flexible scheduling and work-from-home opportunities play a major role in an employee’s decision to take or leave a job."
Virtual employees in the United States report being more connected to their work: Those who were able to spend 60% to 80% of their time away from the office had the highest rates of engagement, according to a New York Times article about the Gallup survey.
Keep reading to learn more about the best practices and behaviors of highly productive remote teams:
1. Foster Team Culture
Invest in an intentional culture that is geared towards driving engagement and interaction between team members. Culture is something that each company should decide on but the general direction should allow for the maximization of bonds and empathy between team members. Building bonds between team members is important as it sets a very good basis for collaboration.
2. Promote Self-Leadership across the Team
Geographic dispersion and cultural diversity make it difficult for any individual leader to ensure that the team is functioning effectively. So, for virtual collaboration to work, team members have to be self-reliant. Members generally need to be aware of the difficulties of dispersed collaboration and find effective ways to overcome those obstacles on their own.
3. Take advantage of Technology
Most companies have been forced down a path of digital transformation that can take most organizations months, if not years, to adopt. Tools like Zoom, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams – which most remote workers are already using on a daily basis – provide simple platforms for tackling communication and collaboration with daily check-ins.
4. Provide for face-to-face meetings
Periodically getting people together for in-person meetings and social events is important. These face-to-face gatherings are effective for initiating and maintaining key social processes that will encourage informal communication, team identification, and cohesion. The time and expense involved will pay off if it means the team will be able to glean the expertise of people that it would otherwise not have had on board.
5. Communicate on a Daily Basis
Daily check-ins can play a vital role if you are required in remote environments. For some people, switching to remote work can be unsettling, so the routine of checking in with the wider team each day can be extremely valuable, especially in those early days and weeks.
You can use these virtual meetings to assess progress, provide feedback, and see if there are any questions team members need to ask. As the team becomes more settled, the frequency of these group sessions can be reduced.
6. Offer Various Contact Options
Make sure the team has a number of different contact options available. This could mean video calls, telephone calls, instant messaging, email, and more.
Clearly, there are significant benefits to video conferencing and this may be the best method of communication for team meetings. Yet, when a team member has a non-urgent question to ask, you probably will not want them to video call you. Provide various options and try to establish which form of communication is best for different situations.
7. Manage expectations
This is always an imperative but has become increasingly more important in this current environment. Many organizations and teams have had to pivot (some significantly) which means the same employees may now be refocused on new tasks which impact ability and motivation, and therefore performance and outcomes. Set clear expectations and request feedback to ensure alignment. Don’t simply assume the team understands where they need to focus their energy.
8. Provide the Right Software
You need to make sure your team is equipped with the software they need to effectively carry out their roles and perform the tasks required. The exact options here will depend on what your team does.
Away from specialist software applications, team members need access to communications software like Microsoft Teams or Zoom, and core applications, like Microsoft Office or Google Workspace. Furthermore, it is important to ensure all team members are using the same versions of the main applications in order to avoid compatibility issues, and also to provide training for employees who are unfamiliar with certain remote work software.
9. Try to Be More Flexible
Flexible working is valued by many employees. According to statistics compiled by SmallBizGenius, 76% of workers say they would be more willing to stay with their current employer if they could work flexible hours.
Remote working provides an ideal opportunity to introduce or expand on this kind of flexibility. Depending on the work being done and how much real-time collaboration is required, you could opt to be flexible on work start times. In many cases, this has resulted in increased team morale and longer tenure from valued personnel.
10. Use Remote Work to Your Advantage
One of the more interesting advantages associated with remote work is the ability to hire people from anywhere in the world. Use this to create a more dynamic, diverse, and specialized team. On a basic level, remote work provides a deeper talent pool to explore, which could result in new hires with superior skills. You can also benefit from workers being available at different times of the day or gain valuable local insights by having boots on the ground staff in key regions.
Conclusion - Practices And Behaviors Of Highly Productive Remote Teams
Getting used to managing remote teams can take time, but by using the 10 best practices provided, you can lead an effective team remotely, achieve high levels of productivity and avoid problems.
Most leaders of traditional, in-person organizations think productivity and teamwork suffer in remote teams. Our experience shows remote teams can be extremely productive and happy.
Relationships, culture, and collaboration don't deteriorate just because people work remotely.
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A software design and development agency that helps companies build and grow products by delivering high-quality software through agile practices and perfectionist teams.
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