While some companies have returned to the office, other businesses remain fully or partially remote. How do you support a remote team? The following tips can help if some or all of your staff continue to converse through a view screen.
Managing a remote team means setting clear expectations regarding everyone’s tasks and goals, and establishing procedures for sharing information. This is even more important when staff isn’t physically together.
“It’s crucial that managers communicate with their remote staff,” Paul Pellman, CEO of Kazoo, told SHRM, “because it keeps workers apprised of deadlines, available resources, work-related challenges and managers’ expectations, including work schedules.”
Those who have returned to the office shouldn’t forget the people still working from home.
“It is natural for people geographically together to communicate with each other more than with someone who is remote. In virtual meetings, be conscious of the need to intentionally include everyone and not go off into conversations with those in the room with you,” says Charles Dormer, a member of the Forbes Coaches Council.
Just as your on-site staff may pop into your office to discuss a project, remote team members also benefit from one-on-one time with you.
“Take a moment to engage directly with remote employees at least once a day, whether through an email, instant message, phone call or video chat,” says Indeed. “The longer you go without reaching out to these employees, the more likely they are to feel left out and become disengaged from their work.”
In fact, your team’s health depends on feeling connected to fellow staff and supported by you and your company.
“Loneliness is one of the most common complaints about remote work, with employees missing the informal social interaction of an office setting,” according to the Harvard Business Review. Employees who lose their sense of belonging to an organization may begin looking for work elsewhere.
Find creative ways to help your team connect. Create a virtual “water cooler” where staff can gather for non-work-related chit-chat, or begin a meeting by catching up with each other. Host a virtual coffee break -- or a lunch, with food delivered to everyone at the time of a video conference. Celebrate birthdays and other milestones.
When your workforce is remote, you don’t always know when they are “at their desks.” However, resist the urge to micromanage, which implies that you don’t trust them to do their jobs. After all, what’s more important -- their work style, or their ability to meet goals and deadlines?
One thing we’ve learned from remote work is that the lines between “work” and “home” may blur, resulting in employees who are “always on.” Managers should model a healthy work-life balance and establish boundaries when it comes to things like responding to after-hours work emails and texts.
Supporting a remote staff has its nuances. But remote or in-office, many of the same management traits apply. Communication, inclusion, connection and balance are key to creating a strong team that can weather your prolonged separation until you meet in person again.
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