Remote work, even if part-time, has been practiced in many different companies for years. And with the Covid-19 lockdown, it has become essential even in industries that never considered such an approach before. Today, many professionals across various fields understand the benefits of remote work even more and do not seem too eager to return to offices full-time. No wonder — after all, remote work emphasizes personal flexibility and usually results in better work-life balance.
Of course, having a staff of remote workers has its benefits for the employers as well. It gives them a chance to minimize some office costs and commuting expenses while building a team of independent employees who can manage their own time. But the risks are considerate, too. Even though many remote team members can work more productively than traditional office employees, they can also get demotivated, which results in productivity loss and higher absenteeism. Ensuring that the team is working at its full capacity is one of the many HR manager responsibilities. So, it often falls onto the HRs to introduce strategies for effective remote teamwork. And the following tips should help with that.
Promote effective communication
It’s all about healthy communication — the first and most crucial building block of effective team building. You cannot expect remote employees to work efficiently if they feel stranded and lack quality support from management and other team members. There are several ways to create an effective communication strategy, for example, holding regular meetings and checking up on the project performance. But most importantly, project managers should set clear, actionable goals for the next week, month, year, etc., and monitor this progress.
Another suggestion to strengthen communication is to make sure it goes both ways. Employees should have easy access to any relevant project data and be encouraged to consult the management and colleagues whenever they have questions or experience difficulties.
Invest in the right tools
The right tools are the principal investment into your team’s productivity — not to mention that without the right tools, it would be impossible to ensure effective communication. Here, a lot will depend on your business specifics, of course, even though there are some pretty universal solutions, too. For example, as one of the pioneers in building effective remote teams, Google has plenty of products in its suite that make remote collaboration easier.
But you do not have to limit yourself to GSuite alone, of course. Consider other, more niche-specific tools, too. For example, a task tracker is a great way to monitor project progress. Group chats and conference software are other choices that cannot go wrong.
Introduce leisure team activities
Joint activities are one of the classic team-building strategies that can work wonders if done right. Here, choosing something most of your team members will enjoy is vital — some might love a corporate outing to the next basketball game, while others would rather attend a dancing class. With diverse teams, it is not always easy to pick an activity everyone would love, but it’s also hard to go wrong with something neutral, like a corporate barbecue or a similar outdoor trip. This gives your employees a chance to socialize casually — something that is very helpful for the team’s morale, productivity, and motivation.
Promote friendly connections
This tip is a logical continuation of the previous one — give your employees a chance to get to know each other. Of course, hosting regular barbecues is not always an option, but you can think of virtual events that promote the same message. You can achieve the same by running corporate social media channels or starting a separate group chat for casual communication. Give your team members a chance to engage with each other not only professionally but also casually.
Think macro, not micro-management
Three-thirds of workers in the McKinsey survey state that their immediate boss is the significant stress factor at work. This is often the result of micro-management, a highly counter-productive strategy. Employees who are constantly micro-management feel pressured, which does not align with the main reason they chose remote work in the first place — independence and flexibility.
Besides, constantly controlling employees shows them that the management does not trust them enough to make their own decisions. Of course, monitoring the team’s progress is essential, but it’s best done on a macro, not micro level.
Ask employees for regular feedback
Another great idea that will help you promote effective two-way communication is to make feedback sharing easy. Of course, managers can receive some feedback during regular meetings and conferences. Still, there is also a more convenient way of asking team members to do an occasional poll or a survey. There is plenty of software to create polls and analyze their results. The common questions to include in your survey are how happy people are about the projects they work on, if there is anything they would like to improve, and so on.
Reward and acknowledge employee achievements
You may be surprised, but only a third of US workers receive weekly recognition from their management. This is a rather disturbing statistic because recognition for one’s work is one of the top ways to boost morale and motivate team members to keep up the excellent work. It is totally a stronger incentive to do well than constant micro-monitoring and reprimanding for work that was not entirely up to the required level. Sometimes, you cannot avoid the latter, of course. But that makes the recognition even more important — make sure you notice when people do something right, not just when they make a mistake.
Emphasize personal development and wellness
Employees who emphasize the personal wellness of their employees send a very clear message — that is, they show that they care about people. It all starts with the basic things like providing proper healthcare benefits and doing everything possible to avoid overtime. If overtime is unavoidable (which sadly happens sometimes), the extra hours should be appropriately balanced with enough off-days. Another suggestion to promote personal wellness is to give your employees access to online materials about managing stress and preventing burning out.
Make career growth possible
Properly motivated workers can outperform less motivated staff by 202%, and future career opportunities give people an excellent reason to stay motivated. Of course, different employees have different ambitions and career expectations, but providing room for growth and professional fulfillment is still important. In fact, money has proven to be a less critical incentive in motivating employees when compared to the possibility of career growth. And even though climbing the career ladder often results in more income, for most industry experts, money is not the top motivator.
Of course, none of these strategies alone guarantees 100% success, but when balanced accordingly, they help promote a healthy, productive work environment where every employee feels a part of the team. The last advice would be to adjust to any team morale changes and act accordingly. We are all human, which means that we are never entirely safe from error and occasional productivity loss. But quality team building minimizes that risk and boosts your company’s reputation.