Maintaining a Healthy, Remotely-Run Team
Work culture is rapidly changing. Today’s successful companies pride themselves on high productivity, a great bottom-line, high company morale and, in a lot of cases, a high degree of decentralization.
Quickly fading are the days of relying on a tangible office presence as a requirement for moving the ball forward. Technology has enabled us to accomplish more while traveling less. Today’s businesses are seeing unimaginable results all while making use of the talents of team members who work remotely.
In this fall’s most recent Gallup poll, 37% of U.S. employees indicate working remotely is a significant part of their job. While the number has only increased gradually in the last few years, the amount of people working remotely is over four times greater than it was twenty years ago. It seems companies are making the necessary adjustments to remain lively and effective in our ever-changing entrepreneurial, technology-driven business culture.
How do you succeed in managing a team that works remotely?
The key words here are balance and rhythm. Any business looking to successfully create and maintain a healthy remote-work culture should first commit to doing the hard work of establishing healthy rhythms for its employees and teams.
Here are a few tips for creating healthy rhythms for a remote-based team:
Prioritize High Accountability and Low Micromanagement
For some, the idea of employees being left to themselves to get work done is a sure bet for paranoia and anxiety. However, in learning to work with a remote team, trust is key. This doesn’t mean accountability is lost. In fact, in a lot of ways, accountability will increase and will serve both leaders and team members well as long as expectations are clear from the start.
Pay Attention to Individuals
Regardless of how many social outlets are created online, some people will always be far more effective in a face-to-face environment. When managing a remote team, be careful not to mistake lack of participation online as a sign of lack of passion for the company and its initiatives. Manage each individual as just that, an individual, who has personality quirks and traits that can all be used to benefit the team greatly when coached.
Default to Remote
Most companies transitioning to remote-work environments employ a mix of in-office workers and those who are working from a distance. The goal here is a shared experience for both, mainly going the extra distance to ensure those working remotely feel like they are a part of the team and are sharing the same experiences as in-office teammates.
For example, have all in-office team members Skype or FaceTime individually instead of making remote workers connect to a large group that is stationed at the office.
This one cannot be stressed enough. It’s difficult to foresee all the potential problems created when team members and leaders aren’t able to “pop in” with an update to a memo or on-going issue.
Communication channels should be frequently evaluated to ensure everyone is on the same page. A big part of the communication piece is meetings. Since the team will no longer be gathered in one place, it is important to pay close attention to the value the team is getting from each meeting. The primary goal of meetings in a remote environment becomes connectivity. Information transfer becomes a secondary priority.
Leading a remote team is a unique challenge, but the rewards are worth it. The accomplishments from efforts made using fewer resources (office space, supplies, time, etc.) are lasting and serve to boost morale for your entire team if pulled off correctly.
As mainstay “big box” companies like Amazon and Apple continue to build out their remote working structures, it is safe to say the trend is here to stay for the foreseeable future.