8 Ways To Keep Your Team Connected While Working Remotely
Employees are happiest when they work remotely. They’re also more productive. With so many benefits to working from home, it’s no wonder last year’s shift to remote work has forever changed the face of the workplace. Still, it has its own downsides. To start, engagement and team connection. When your team is spread out across a city, country or around the world, it’s a lot harder to feel connected and engage with the team. But losing this part of the team culture can have a damaging effect on productivity. Team leaders must actively work on bringing their remote teams together. Let’s take a look at eight of the ways you can keep your team connected while working remotely.
1. Consult Your Team On How They Work Best
Working outside of the office is new for a majority of remote employees. Before the pandemic, less than 3% of the US workforce worked remotely, but after stay-at-home orders were put into place, that number jumped to 41%. Navigating this new normal has been difficult for many. To establish a workflow amongst your team that promotes connectedness and engagement, consult your team to find out what works best for everyone. Taking the temperature of your team doesn’t just let you know how and when your team works best, it allows you to lead with empathy, a leadership quality necessary for remote working and maximizing productivity within your team.
2. Communicate Productively
Communication is key when it comes to managing a remote team, but communicating productively matters even more. In 2020, remote employees spent one-third of their workday on video calls. What’s worse, 24% of employees found those meetings useless. Although video calls are a great replacement for face-to-face interaction, too much time spent on calls takes away from doing actual work. Productive and effective communication is necessary to lead a remote team. Consider other forms of communication that more quickly relay information like email, chat channels or project management apps (more on this later) to stay connected and informed while granting employees more time to focus on valuable tasks. While video calls are necessary, relying on all forms of communication helps better keep your team connected while working remotely.
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3. Create Breakaway Groups
A study by McKinsey found that 97% of employees and executives feel a lack of alignment amongst a team impacts the outcome of their work. Connecting on a smaller scale fixes that. Smaller breakaway groups within a larger remote team allows employees to work together more intimately and align with each other. This leads to better performance and higher quality work. Working in smaller groups also gives team members time to get to know each other and connect on a personal level, creating the “work friends” relationships that used to be formed in office settings. Working in these small groups encourages productivity through collaboration leading to a more connected team.
4. Perform One-on-One Check Ins
A lack of access to information and a lack of belonging are among the top challenges facing remote employees. In the short term, these obstacles affect employee productivity; in the long term, they lead to employees leaving altogether. Being available to employees on a regular basis addresses this. Setting up regular, individual check-ins with your team members creates a communication structure they can count on. This stable and predictable communication channel will ensure your employees aren’t left in the dark and have everything they need to do their job so they can stay connected to their work.
5. Establish Quiet Working Hours
Remote teams struggle with two types of engagement: team engagement and work engagement. To stay connected to your team often means more meetings, more emails and more phone calls but that approach leaves very little time for employees to work on tasks of value leaving them disconnected from their actual duties. To ensure your remote team has time to work on their actual work rather than busy work, remote team leaders can set up a time lock, or quiet hours. This is time during each workday that won’t be interrupted by meetings or calls. Providing this time to your team promotes engagement with their tasks and helps them stay connected to their role in the company.
6. Utilize Project Management Apps
In the office, it’s easy to know what’s going on with your desk neighbor or on your team, but working remotely becomes harder without being next to your coworkers all day. Project management apps solve that problem. Apps like Teramind are great for task organization in addition to giving managers a way to track employee productivity and performance, even when working remotely. The task management tool built into Teramind allows groups to be created so team members can see ongoing projects within the department and offers additional features like time tracking and workflow analysis. Employees feel more connected when they know what’s going on with their team outside of their own tasks. Project management apps are a space where that happens and gives employees the opportunity to help out on other projects. Say one employee is working on a task but comes across information that can be used for another project. A project management app lets employees connect over that information. Even if working individually, this kind of collaboration helps keep your team connected while working remotely.
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7. Show Appreciation & Recognition
One of the office nuances remote workers miss out on is recognition for their work. Everything from small acknowledgements in the hallway to “Bagel Friday” after a big project increase engagement and help fight against employee burnout; but a Gallup poll revealed that only 25% of remote employees felt recognized for their work. Bringing recognition rituals to your remote team brings your team together. These shows of appreciation can be a shoutout during a video call or even emailing out gift cards for coffee. Team morale gets a boost when team members are praised for a job well done, and a good team morale results in more productive workers.
8. Create Social Time
One fifth of remote workers feel lonely and isolated and the impact of those feelings is widespread. Employee loneliness and isolation leads to disengagement which lowers morale and productivity and results in higher labor costs. It’s up to team leaders to bring their teams together to work against such feelings. That’s where team socializing comes in. Creating social time during the remote work day is as simple as spending time during meetings to talk about personal interests or creating a chat channel to discuss a common interest like a TV show. This lets remote workers know you value them as people, not just employees and provides interactions that curb employees’ feelings of loneliness.
Although employee happiness may be at an all time high thanks to remote work, remote employees still need to feel like part of the team. To keep your team connected while working remotely takes little effort but doing so creates a more cohesive team that improves their quality of work and sets them up for continued productivity no matter where they’re signing in from.
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