Managing remote teams can be a complex task, but establishing and nurturing a collaborative or supportive remote-workplace culture? Even more so. Whether navigating Project Management or an Organization’s Mission and Values - differing time zones, cultures, work styles, and language can make it difficult to get everyone on the same page. Hopefully, with these 5 tips for making remote teams more personal, you'll be able to keep your team connected, collaborative and establish that company culture outside of the constructs of a standard office environment.
1. Enjoy a remote meal with your remote employees
Schedule a lunch date with your employees. Employees often struggle with work-life balance; which usually leads to eating breakfast, lunch, or dinner at our desks in an effort to hack productivity. Host a Remote Lunch via Google Meet, Zoom - or however you communicate with your teams - and take a break to just chat, cafeteria-style. When working remotely, we lose those “water-cooler” conversations, and that’s where some of the best collaboration and camaraderie happen! So grab a bite to eat, sit down with your colleagues, and take the time to discuss personal interests, hobbies, you name it... ANYTHING except work. You can even host a Holiday Party over Zoom! The options are endless.
2. Try to meet them in person if possible (if they live close enough, and it is safe to do so.)
We all know that the COVID-19 pandemic upended meetings and events, and for good reason. The safety and well-being of your employees should always be a top priority. However, with vaccinations rolling out and our employees feeling a bit more comfortable meeting in small groups, get creative and host your employees for a few days! Fill half the time with collaborative work - the stuff that is SO much easier to get done in person - and fill the other half with team-bonding activities; socially distanced, of course. Don’t live close enough to your team members, or have a widely dispersed team? No worries! Create work-pods throughout the different regions in which your employees reside, and let them get together!
3. Involve your team members in establishing remote work expectations
Not everyone has the ability to log on at 8:00 AM and stay on until 5:00 PM. When working from home, there's always SOMETHING pulling your employees away - whether it's the dog that has to go for a walk, a kiddo that forgot their lunchbox at school, a homework assignment for your teen, or the laundry timer that just went off. Working remotely is not without its distractions, and sometimes employees can get tangled in juggling that work-life balance. Seek feedback from your employees on how they work best, what the expectations are for working hours, how long it should take to receive a response to an email or text message, the list goes on. Be thorough, thoughtful, and inclusive with your team’s contributions, and most importantly - be patient. If the work gets done at 5:00 AM before the kids wake up, or 11:00 PM after the world is asleep, it shouldn't matter. So long as your team is moving forward.
4. Be generous with productivity hacks and apps
Do you know of a list-making app that knocks your socks off? Does your employee want a specific program to help plan out their social content in advance so they’re not manually posting at 11:30 PM? LET. THE. PEOPLE. HAVE. IT.
If there is a product, service, or tool that will assist your employees in being more productive - you should make every effort to help make that happen (within budget, and reason). Set aside a budget for tools to enable your employees to learn, create, and work in the way that suits them best. Your return on investment will be ten-fold when you minimize barriers to productivity and empower your employees to choose those processes or tools for themselves.
5. Celebrate your teams’ success
When working remotely, it can be difficult for your employees to see the “big picture”. Progress reports from Senior Leadership aids in allowing employees to see the bigger picture; showing them the whole staircase instead of the single-step they’re tasked to complete. Managers can update and share individuals’ accomplishments with the rest of the team; and bring each facet of the organization together to showcase how individual contributions lead to company success.
We hope these 5 tips for nurturing a thriving workplace (without the walls) have been helpful as you continue to navigate this new normal. If you’ve found other strategies that work well, please share them with us on social media, we’d LOVE to hear from you.