Having a remote team comes with great advantages. For team members, it means flexibility, less time wasted commuting, less stress, lower costs and increased autonomy. For companies it means access to global workforce with a minimum waste of resources. Being a win-win option, as of 2019, 66% of companies allow their employees to work remotely, while 16% are totally remote.
However, this rapid shift in the workforce structure and behavior comes with its own set of challenges. Employers and employees need to adapt to a totally different way of interacting with each other, with their peers, and also with their clients.
A strong remote team can push your company to the top, while a weak one could make it crumble to the ground. So how can you make sure you help your people bring home the victory? Let’s explore together some of the most powerful strategies for building a strong remote team.
1. Have meetings over video
Nowadays most people are perfectly capable to interact and express nonverbal communication signals in writing. This makes teamwork via chat run smoothly, allowing team members to collaborate without the need to hear or see each other. However, face-to-face communication is not yet obsolete. Seeing each other’s facial expressions and hearing the tone of one’s voice helps people bond and perceive each other in a more accurate way.
Luckily, we don’t have to travel to the office and be in the same room to see each other – most team communication apps have video call options. Help your team bond and reduce the risks of misunderstandings by encouraging your teammates to schedule weekly or monthly video calls.
2. Encourage flexibility
Working schedule can be one of the biggest challenges for teams working remotely, especially when members are located on different continents. Time zones can affect collaboration or have a negative impact on work satisfaction for those who are required to work on a schedule they are not comfortable with. While some people don’t mind, others would hate to stay awake for a midnight conference or start their work day at 5 am.
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If your goal is to build a strong and stable remote team of dedicated people who love their jobs, they shouldn’t be the only ones expected to compromise. Leave room for flexibility and find a way to work around their needs. Allow people to set their own schedules within a given time frame, especially if you need their working hours to intersect.
Schedule meetings at times that are convenient for everyone and use tools that allow this kind of flexibility without compromising the quality of your work.
3. Have clear expectations
When working with a remote team, it is very important to make your expectations very clear. If people don’t understand or misunderstand requirements and tasks, setting things straight on the go could mean a loss of hours, or even days, of work. That could set back the entire team and lead to conflicts and frustration.
Avoid any potential damage by making sure your team knows exactly what is expected of them. Set team goals and constantly follow their progress or appoint a team leader to keep track and manage everyone closely.
4. Observe the team psychology
You might find it hard to believe, but introverts have a harder time adapting to a remote team. Most people wrongly believe that since extroverts need more human contact and social interactions, they would have a hard time working alone in their own home office. In fact, the social skills extroverts have usually turn out to be very useful for reaching out and bonding with people they don’t know, see, or hear. On the other hand, introverts love working all by themselves and are less likely to reach out for help or work closely together with other people.
The downside is that it is a lot harder to figure out people’s personality when face-to-face interaction is limited. You need to keep an open eye for people who don’t seem to interact with others and refrain from engaging in dialogue – be it work-related or informal. Introverts usually have a hard time initiating dialogue so make sure to include them in the conversation and provide some extra encouragement for those who are struggling socially.
5. Leave some room for fun
Creating a strong remote team takes effort and dedication. It requires people to be comfortable with each other and know they can count on one another. But that doesn’t miraculously happen overnight. Sure, with time team members become used to work together and collaborate on projects but that doesn’t make a strong team culture.
Employees working 9 to 5 jobs at the office spend most of their time in the same place and they still need team-building activities outside of the workplace to develop team cohesion. While people working remotely might not be able to meet in person, there is no reason why they couldn’t enjoy team-building activities online. You can play video games together, or even MMOs that will allow you to act through your avatars just as you would in Real Life.
6. Provide the right tools
More than anything, communication is crucial for remote teams. But even though you have no control over the personal skills that people might possess – or not 🙂 there is one thing that is totally in your power: choosing the right tools.
In this day and age, most companies have moved on from the good ol’ email. We all know emails get lost, people feel excluded, time is killed between replies, and the chaos created is hard to be contained.
Smart companies are now going for team communication apps that keep everything in one place, while providing multiple ways of communication. Your team can chat, call with voice or video, transfer documents, and keep everything safe for later review. All in one place. Smart companies go for Hubgets!