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A guide to building your remote teams

Remote working was slowly becoming popular until recently that companies were forced to go remote and work beyond their office walls. This global crisis will change the way we work, and working from home will be the new normal. Now, you may think it would be easy to manage a remote team, but the truth is managing a remote workforce can be quite challenging.

Common challenges faced by remote employees

  1. While working remotely it is a challenge for teams to foster open communication. It is important for teams to be able to know who is working on what and gather information from all team members.

  2. It becomes difficult for managers to track work and productivity of employees. Many a times, managers make the mistake of intruding into the personal space of employees to ensure that they are working. It is important for managers to stop the body-in-seat mentality and focus on transparency and give employees freedom to carry out their work.

  3. Remote working makes it difficult to incorporate company culture into teams. Regardless of whether you want to create a professional culture or a team that is known for being energetic and fun, it will take more effort to develop in a remote team than in an in-house team.

  4. Building trust amongst remote managers and remote workers is definitely harder when teams are separated. As Larry Prusak, faculty of Columbia University said, "more than incentives, technology, roles, missions or structures, it is trust that makes collaboration really work". Without intentional effort to encourage bonding, trust and transparency amongst remote employees, scattered teams can particularly be prone to make assumptions and misinterpretations that break down trust.

  5. Low employee morale is quite common in remote teams, as workers often feel undervalued, out of touch with the company and unsure of where they stand. Keeping employee morale healthy and communication lines open is important for creating an environment where productivity can flourish.

How can you effectively engage with your remote teams?

There are many challenges that come with managing a remote workforce. Fortunately, they can be overcome fairly easily by putting in some extra effort. Three words all remote managers must live by are transparency, collaboration and empathy, which are vital for boosting your remote teams productivity and creativity! The following are some measures you could make use of to overcome the challenges commonly faced by remote teams:

  1. Establish better communication by creating a dedicated workplace for communication. An internal team communication tool, such as Slack can enable communication across many different channels. It is important to always ensure that there is a two-way communication, so remote workers won't feel isolated from each other.

  2. Set realistic goals and standards by creating metrics based on the expectations for the employee and measure employee performance based on the expectations set! Always make it a point to ensure that there are clear expectations, regardless of how and where your team works.

  3. Foster meaningful connections - One of the best parts of working with other people is getting to know them personally. Humans are social animals and we need connection; we know how hard it is to do that when you are working with scattered teams, in different places and time zones. Plan on a virtual get-together, virtual book clubs, virtual cooking classes, virtual dance parties, etc, and encourage employees to share more about themselves with their team members.

  4. One-on-one meetings with your employees are crucial for boosting employee morale. These meetings will give managers a better understanding of how to best engage with each individual on the team, make the workers feel valued and also presents an opportunity to give feedback on performance.

  5. Build your teams- A good organisation invests time and energy to continually train and develop teams. Turn individual workers into a cohesive team, inculcate team spirit into your teams and motivate them to work cooperatively towards your organisations goals. Focusing on team building can improve the efficiency and performance as groups trust each other and feel connected to a common goal. Some ideas of team building activities include, virtual quizzes, virtual games, virtual cooking challenges, photography competitions etc.

Tapping into great talent, expanding diversity of thought and improving productivity are just some of the benefits of remote teams. Strengthening your remote team is definitely challenging, but it is guaranteed to reap benefits in the long run!

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