What’s your team dynamic like? If you’re reading this, it’s pretty likely that you’ve worked from home at some point in the last two years, and have perhaps never been in the same room as your colleagues. Who would have thought?! Do you have all the tools you need to work remotely? If you run a team, there’s even more for you to think about; it’s not just your own wellbeing that you need to consider, it’s your whole team’s too. Culture is a crucial part of a company’s success, with 82% of people saying that a company’s culture is a competitive hiring advantage.
Build a foundation of trust and psychological safety in your team
People’s responses to working at home have been very different. For some, living and working in the same place (and often, the same room), is not easy. If you lead a remote team, it’s important to set a tone of openness and trustworthiness. If people feel able to share honestly about how they’re doing and believe that you are being honest too, it will provide a solid foundation on which to build great ideas and execute tasks together.
Define and share your company’s culture with new hires
Every company should have a set of values and a mission that they implement and live out. Even though your team may be remote, they’re all still part of the same company. Values can be carried across any context – that’s the point. But, especially with new employees who may have been hired in a post-Covid (and therefore, not face-to-face) manner, being clear in communicating the company’s values and culture is crucial. If people don’t understand what they’re coming into or how things are done, it’s just a recipe for misunderstandings and isolation.
Treat your remote teams with the same respect as in-house teams
For some companies, even pre- and post-Covid, remote teams were part of a broader company setup. Of course, now it’s more of a standard (and even prized) offering, but it could be that you’re in a blend of office-based and home-based work. As a team leader, be mindful of not appearing to favour or appreciate the employees who are in the office. Every facet of your team is important, regardless of where they’re working from.
Make internal communication easy
It can be tricky enough to be understood in a meeting with a person in the same room. Now, there are many more barriers to clear communication. Luckily, there are excellent tools available to bolster good team communication. Consider signing up for platforms like Slack, monday.com, Asana, and Trello to 1) establish clear channels of communication among the team as a whole and between individual team members, and 2) organise, share, and collaborate on tasks easily.
According to Glassdoor, the leading global company review platform, 81% of employees are motivated to work harder as a direct result of bosses showing appreciation for their work. This is a staggering insight. Encouragement – positive reinforcement – inspires people to greatness over fear of failure, criticism, or threats. Take time to celebrate small victories and big strides in progress within your team. If your employees feel seen and validated by you, they will be stirred to more proactive and braver work.
Schedule 1:1 time with your team
There are no more coffee queues, elevator rides, and lunch breaks to chat and get to know those we work with. Because we are all scattered in our own homes, any personal contact must now be scheduled and consented to. This can make building relationships feel contrived and awkward at first, but it is so valuable. By scheduling dedicated and regular one-on-one meetings with each member of your team, you can create a space where you both feel comfortable and open to talk through work-related issues as well as get to know each other on a personal level.
Now that our desks are in our bedrooms, it can be difficult to separate our personal lives from our work. There’s always another task to finish, another problem to solve, and another email to respond to. But at the same time, there’s also another meal to cook, a load of washing to do, and a conversation to have. Be firm about the divide between your team’s working life and their personal life. Workaholics burn out and, in the end, are not productive or clear-thinking, inspired members of any team. Happy team members are balanced, enjoying a range of activities outside of the workspace.
Collect feedback regularly
As we embark into this uncharted territory of predominantly working remotely, there will be lots of room for improvement and refinement. Every individual within a team is unique, and every team has its own dynamic. We are fluid, and our experience of life and work is fluid too, so make sure that you’re making time and space for employees to give feedback about what is and isn’t working for them. More than that, creating a culture of sharing feedback encourages accountability, transparency, and teamwork as you all air areas for improvement and then work together to be part of the solution.
Encourage team socialising
A cohesive team is a successful team. Many, or all, of your employees may never have met in person. There’s a lot of bonding and familiarity that can be fostered over video calls, so try and incorporate some time regularly to answer fun questions, play games, or have virtual post-work drinks, for example. If possible, it’s also worth encouraging team members who live in the same city to meet in person and engage socially with each other. If the team feels connected, they will be more invested in one another and the success of the team as a whole.
Develop the practice of sharing ideas
It can feel awkward and clumsy to host brainstorming meetings and discussions over video call, where people are muted and then unmuted and then speak over each other and then have their feed interrupted by poor internet connection. However, this is the way a lot of work is going to happen for the foreseeable future, and it certainly doesn’t have to be a negative experience. If you lead your team into a practice of sharing thoughtfully, not shooting each other down, and engaging with and responding to ideas with respect, people will be more likely to participate wholeheartedly in group discussions.
The above may seem like tricky things to instil in a team, but as always, there’s a tool that can help. Introducing: Hi5. This interactive and intuitive platform allows team members to motivate each other through recognition and reward for work well done. Hi5 is bursting with cool and powerful features, take a look through and see for yourself.
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