As our workforce grows and working remotely becomes more the norm rather than the exception, both managers and staff are facing new challenges. Learning how to use and train others on new technologies and maintaining relationships and ensuring effective communication are only a few of the trials and tribulations facing leaders and teams in 2021. With competing priorities and less in-person interaction, it can be difficult to select the most important elements to focus on. The following tips, although intended primarily for managers as a framework to help adapt to the new normal and support teams in virtual environments, are also guidelines for employees who want to prosper and thrive going forward.
1. Focus on Outcomes
In remote environments, results are paramount. Working remotely changes the way that we manage our time. Understanding that these workday dynamics are significantly different than those of a traditional office, successful remote managers prioritize results and deliverables rather than directing employees on the best ways to use their time.
In support of team goals and in recognition of this paradigm shift, it is important to give clear and specific guidance and direction.
Working with remote staff necessitates an even stronger emphasis on expectations and deadlines. Communicating exactly what needs to be done and when it needs to be completed are the keys to success.
Tracking performance instead of hours worked and allowing for flexible work schedules can enhance productivity and workflow.
2. Increase Communication and Engagement
One of the biggest issues that remote teams struggle with is communication. There are many reasons for this. Meeting someone face-to-face provides a very natural and familiar way to communicate, whereas virtual meetings have technology barriers and nonverbal signals can be easily missed. The most effective remote managers increase one-on-one and group interactions to check in regularly and collect feedback to make sure that employees’ needs are being met and that job expectations are understood and being completed.
Additional individual support can take many forms, including periodically meeting with each employee to ensure they are adapting to new technologies, understanding changes in reporting techniques, and providing support or resources as needed.
Verifying that employees are comfortable using videoconferencing platforms like Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Microsoft Teams can help alleviate feeling of isolation and burnout as well as facilitate smooth meetings that keep employees feeling connected and committed.
3. Build Trust and Accountability
It is crucial for cooperation and morale that remote teams feel united. Managers can share positive feedback, make sure they are easily accessible to their team, and open the lines of communication though texts, calls, email, or whatever best fits within the team’s culture.
Sharing priorities and milestones early on will set the tone that the team is working together to achieve a common goal.
Many companies have had great success hosting more casual, non-work events on virtual platforms to promote camaraderie that many in-person teams develop at company events and when working together. It is also important to share and celebrate both team and individual achievements while also focusing on teambuilding activities, although they may occur in different formats than in prior periods.
Many people will be working remotely for the foreseeable future. Remote teams present new challenges and require different and dynamic approaches from managers and employees. By prioritizing results and outcomes with increased flexibility, communicating expectations clearly and frequently, and engaging employees with collaboration and trust, managers can build highly effective and successful remote teams.