With remote work becoming one of the biggest global trends in working conditions, more and more of us are finding ourselves in charge of a remote team. From working in a fully distributed company all the way to employees having one day remote a week, the correct strategies need to be implemented to make the most out of the situation.
Keeping your team members engaged with their work and happy will ensure that everyone gets to enjoy the benefits that remote work can bring. Sounds easy right? Well, there are a few challenges and bumps along the way when getting to grips with managing remote teams. Along with the issues that each remote worker can face themselves, you also have to learn to manage a team remotely as well.
The benefits of having an engaged and happy team are already well documented. Remote workers who report being happy are more productive, healthy and engaged in their work by up to 20%. When each employee is engaged and happy, the benefits can be felt by the whole team. Two of the key areas to keep on top of are without a doubt communication and maintaining standards. By creating an environment where comms policies and processes are carefully laid out, you will avoid scenarios that are likely to leave your team feeling unengaged with their work.
Investing in your team’s development is also a great way to get employees to feel great about themselves and engage more with their job. This, in combination with other perks that you can offer, helps build up a company and team culture that people just can’t help not wanting to be a part of!
Not communicating enough with your team
When you’re communicating with your remote team, there is really no such thing as overcommunication. Us remoters, unfortunately, don’t have the option of simply walking over to someone’s desk to get further clarification on a task. Instant feedback and monitoring also isn’t possible a lot of the time. This is why it is absolutely key to communicate regularly, clearly and also clarify your tasks thoroughly.
When communications lack, mistakes are made and your team wastes time. This, of course, leads to people becoming unengaged with their work and unhappy. To combat this, make sure to schedule regular calls with each member of the team. Here, you can check the status of tasks, clarify instructions and keep up to date with any issues your team member may have.
Encourage your team members to over-communicate as well. For people who aren’t used to it, it can feel a bit strange going into detail about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. But without having the visual cues that are present in an office, it’s easy for people to fly under the radar. Not letting people know what you’re doing when things will be completed or what you’re working on that day is a breeding ground for unengaged team members!
Encourage social interaction between your team members
One of the biggest issues that can be faced by remote workers is loneliness and lack of social interaction. This is especially true for people working only from home, who may then not leave the house or spend the vast majority of their waking hours there. Even digital nomads can feel lonely too. Traveling without family and friends for extended periods of time, along with constant moving, can be difficult for some as well.
Loneliness, when not combatted, can lead to serious health complications such as depression and anxiety disorders, and also will directly affect your remote workers output and team contribution. While there are so many amazing benefits to working remotely, loneliness is something that a lot of remote workers will have to deal with at some point.
Luckily, there are some strategies that you as a manager can implement to improve social interaction between the whole team. One great method is to create a virtual water cooler and encourage its use. Depending on what communication tools you’re using, dedicated channels can be set up where your team members can relax a bit and get to know each other. When creating your virtual water cooler, you need to be enthusiastic and dedicated to its use. Simply setting it up and expecting the team to use it just isn’t going to happen.
Find out what inspires your team, their interests or something that you all have in common. Use this information to then generate discussion in things that you will all be interested in. Each team is individual, so you’ll have to find your own unique thing that can help bring about social cohesion. Make a note also of those team members who seem distant. There could be some underlying reasons why they’re not engaging.
Invest in your employees and everyone benefits
People love to invest in themselves and develop their skills. We all want progression. One great way to keep your team engaged then is to schedule regular training sessions for your team. These could be in places local to each person, completely online or perhaps at some kind of team retreat if possible. Hosting a live training session online is perhaps one of the best methods to use, as people can ask questions and engage directly in the training session. This isn’t always possible however due to differences in time zones. If you invest in your team’s development, you directly reap the benefits. Each person also benefits too, and who doesn’t like that? It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
Also, think about investing in yourself too. Have a look at training for remote managers like our Remote-how Certified in Distributed Management program. If you improve your own skills and techniques for managing a remote team, you’ll be able to create a better working environment. Bad management methods lead to unhappy teams and workers who don’t feel like engaging fully.
Emulate the perks often seen in a colocated office
Most companies nowadays offer a number of perks for their employees. This is especially so in startups and up and coming tech companies. These are more often than not the ones most likely to offer remote work too. Brown bag lunches and group activities are of course a bit more difficult to arrange when you’re not working in the same space! Think then of other perks that will engage your team and keep up team spirits.
One great example is setting aside a budget for team members to utilize a local coworking space. This can help combat loneliness as previously mentioned above and give your team a change of environment than just working from home. It’s also conducive to creating better work for those who are on the move. Some locations they may be in may not have great facilities for working. Finding them a coworking space nearby will help them produce better work and will make your team appreciate the effort you’re putting in.
You can even look at getting gym memberships for your team members at a location near them. You’ll help keep your team healthy, which has a positive effect on overall mental health. Healthy workers produce better work, and you’ll keep them engaged by offering them a perk at work. Everyone wins!
If you have the budget to do so, organising a company retreat is also a fantastic way of keeping up morale. It also acts as a kind of reward for all the hard work that your team has been doing throughout the year. As remote companies are often saving on office costs, there’s a possibility that you may be able to secure some funds to get everyone away. You’ll gain two key benefits here: a chance for everyone to socialise and build up team bonds and the opportunity to do some work together. Having a mix of workshops, fun activities and exploration can act as a motivating factor for a remote team.
Need more tips on getting the most out of your remote team?
Mastering managing remote teams can be difficult. It takes both practice and time, along with a lot of learning along the way. Here at Remote-how, we’ve created a 6-week program to help speed you along the way to becoming a top remote manager. After completing Certified in Distributed Management, you’ll know how to build effective remote teams that produce great quality work and get to enjoy the benefits that being outside the office brings. Our content is actionable, our experts highly skilled and best of all, the course is a whole lot of fun!