How do you build a strong relationship in a remote team?
Working as a part of a remote team is a very different experience from driving to an office and being surrounded by the same group of people every day. As the world has shifted to a virtual office being a common setting for an increasingly popular remote lifestyle, companies are working to shift their strategies to retain the same personal principles that their success was built on.
Wanting to provide for their employees, employers look for new strategies to bring energy into this remote setting, while also finding ways to empower employees and celebrate their accomplishments. This can be tricky to navigate as this is new terrain for many companies, but taking the time to emphasize the importance of adapting to what is best for an employee’s wellness helps to create the new system that will be the foundation for the remote workplace.
There are so many ways to integrate all of the fun moments that occur in the office into a virtual setting and by establishing new traditions, practices, and responsibilities, a remote team can be a smashing success!
How do you empower remote employees?
Two years ago, the entire world migrated in the masses to remote work. Although many have grown accustomed to the remote work environment, employers continue to wonder: “How can I empower my employees from afar?”
First, ask yourself “why” it is important to empower your employees. What is a boss’s role within a team? Lead meetings, make the big decisions and hire/fire people. Right? While these are all responsibilities likely listed in their job descriptions, it is missing one very important duty that every boss or leader is tasked with, and that is employee empowerment.
Employee empowerment is essential to any team dynamic, whether in-person or remote. Employee empowerment prompts personal growth and success within a team. In order for a company to enjoy long-term success, it needs talented workers who have the capacity and ability to generate growth and a future for the company in an ever-changing world. One of the best ways to empower your team is by encouraging them to take on different tasks that challenge them as people and employees.
Foster a Sense of Ownership and Pride
Allow employees to feel an individualized sense of ownership and pride in the product that they are putting their own hard work into. Instead of delegating tasks, try delegating responsibility.
For example, on a remote medical sales team, the technology team may not know about the drug the scientists are formulating in the lab. The technology team is working blindly toward the organizational goal. Instead of delegating a task, “Provide a presentation to the technology team about the drug we sell,” delegate the responsibility, “Help the technology team have a well-rounded understanding of our product.” See the difference?
Plus, in this scenario, everyone will walk away with a clearer idea of the company’s collective mission.
Provide Ample Leadership Opportunities
Getting settled in one set of job responsibilities can lead to stagnant behavior. Encourage employees to take on new responsibilities or leadership positions to provide a new set of challenges within a safe environment. For example, when hiring new employees, invite veteran employees to step into a mentorship position. Low-risk leadership roles can promote satisfaction and even encourage similar behaviors, such as wanting to take on more similar leadership positions in the future.
Make Room for Passion Projects
Every single one of your employees is passionate about something outside (or maybe even within) their job description. Allow your employees to pursue these passions. Some companies set up a “Passion Project Stipend” that allows their employees to pursue personal projects, with financial help from their employer. Chances are, employees will learn skills outside of work that transfer back into the workplace. You want a well-rounded team, right? Set parameters and guidelines as an employer while also allowing autonomy in deciding the nature of the project.
Ultimately, passion projects provide your team with a greater sense of empowerment and a desire to elevate the company as a whole.
How do you energize a remote team?
You can only have coffee so many times in one day. Or can you? Either way, some days it feels like coffee is the only thing keeping you going. Work can be draining both mentally and physically. It’s normal. When you’re working alone from home day in and day out, those feelings of exhaustion can be amplified. Finding ways to connect remote employees with the rest of the team is essential to energize your company.
Working from a home location makes it easy to drift apart from others in the workplace and become more isolated within one’s designated roles and responsibilities. Some call this experience “burnout.” Burnout is defined as mental or emotional exhaustion due to an extended state of stress or not being fulfilled by one’s work. Employers strive to prevent burnout by bringing back energy and passion to their team. Here’s how:
Build relationships. Being intentional about connecting employees and building relationships is a great way to stay connected with the home office and those that employees work with on an individual team.
Provide recognition. Celebrating achieved goals and milestones increases the fulfillment of people on staff and can make people feel empowered to continue wanting to work.
Create rituals. Start fun traditions that people can look forward to throughout the day or the week, no matter how small they might seem, these little moments will go a long way in keeping your team motivated. Activities such as group coffee breaks or group stretching sessions will be a fun and relaxing break in the day that will bring people together for an uplifting mental reset.
Get up and move. Establish movement breaks into the workday to get employees away from their screens and up and moving. Aim to schedule these in the afternoon as people are hitting a natural low in their workday, this will help to increase energy levels and ultimately productivity in the long run. Some examples could include, going on a 5-10 minute walk, having a good stretch, or simply meditating.
Encourage nap time. Recently, some companies around the world are encouraging employees to take timed naps to allow them to reset mentally and be more energized to keep working if they hit a mental wall during the workday. Many people become tired during the workday and can no longer work at the same level and efficiency as in the morning, so allowing them to take a quick 25-minute nap has been shown to rest and re-energizing people in turn increasing productivity moving forward.
“You can do it!” Set aside time as a leader to write out or look up some positive affirmations that can be sent out to team members as a way to hype them up and remind them that they are talented, capable individuals.
Losing steam throughout the day or year is a natural reaction to putting in hard work. Make sure employees do not feel like their time and effort are going unnoticed. Appreciate employees by implementing some of the above ideas to boost excitement and energy levels during the work day.
How do you make remote employees feel connected?
How many people enjoy spending their entire day alone by themselves? Not many! Even if people do enjoy solitude, research suggests that human-to-human interaction is critical for both mental and physical well-being. People need social interaction and connection with other people in order to retain and promote balanced mental health and quality of life. Because remote work is here to stay, employers are partially responsible for encouraging their entire team to enjoy social interaction during the workday. Luckily, there are many different techniques that you can implement to promote connectivity in a remote workplace:
Establish Weekly Rituals
Establishing weekly rituals can be a great way to begin providing everyone with a social setting to look forward to during the week. This can include a multitude of activities such as having check-ins called “happys & crappys” which allows everyone to share what they have achieved and struggled with. A great thing to pair with this activity could also be to share each member’s goal for the week in order to create a better image of what everyone will be working on. Having these rituals and forming company traditions helps to build a team culture and dynamic that will shape the company’s interaction and connectivity. Something as simple as sending out a weekly newsletter with updates and an employee highlight can help people feel more connected to the people working with them from a state or a country away.
Designate Face Time
Another very important strategy to bring people together in a remote setting is to set aside time preferably every day for designated face-to-face time on a platform such as Zoom or Google meet platforms where people can discuss tasks, give updates, distribute responsibilities and essentially just share information as a team. This can significantly improve relationships and communication between coworkers who would otherwise likely have no ties or connections. It is very beneficial to use this technique in both a whole team meeting setting and in just a specific team meeting setting to help people put a face to a name so that they can be more than just a signature at the bottom of an email.
Pairing all of these tools with consistent communication on whatever communication platform your company utilizes can significantly boost employee relationships. This helps people to feel recognized and important as they are being kept in the loop about any changes or alterations that may occur within the workplace. Feeling like a vital part of any team promotes inclusivity and connectivity which encourages the same types of behaviors and communication from the employees, improving overall productivity and function.
Working from home can feel lonely at times but implementing different practices in your company that promote more communication and interaction between co-workers will significantly improve the feeling of connectivity within the workplace.
How do you do virtual team celebrations?
“Woo Hoo! Congrats! We did it!”
There are so many milestones that people achieve as individuals and as teams that deserve to be recognized and celebrated for the accomplishment that has been reached. This is simple when working with people in an office. You buy a cake, some colorful streamers, hang up a banner or two, and blast some upbeat music. Super fun, right? But now you have just reached a massive milestone for your remote upstart company and want to recognize their hard work and accomplishments, too. You are realizing you have no idea how to convert the typical office party into a virtual setting. It is going to be a little trickier to form the same environment, but with some simple alterations, you can recreate the same personal and commemorating conditions for your virtual team.
Virtual face-to-face team meetings can be a great way to copy this setting. Encourage everyone to bring a drink, meal, or party hat and put on some fun music in the background. Don’t be afraid to ask everyone to turn their cameras on. This will mimic the real-life setting that people are used to during a celebration and can help induce excitement and joy when taking a fun break to recognize the accomplishments of the team!
There are so many different tools and platforms available that can be utilized to celebrate team members. Use the following examples to provide your team recognition and even communicate the company’s successes to the outside world.
Social media. Using social media to create posts or stories of a team’s or the company’s significant accomplishments can create a sense of pride within people by stating that their company has enough gratitude for their work to share it with the world. This gives people a sense of fulfillment by enhancing the feeling that they are truly being appreciated for all of the hard work they have put in.
Personal notes. As a leader, taking the time to reach out to employees individually can mean a lot to someone who has just achieved something they have been putting a lot of time and energy into. This message can be easily executed by typing out an email with personal statements and congratulations to make the individual feel appreciated. On the other hand, some people really value handwritten cards, so taking the time to personally write out a letter of gratitude and congratulations can mean much more to some individuals.
Dedicate an entire chat to #winning. Take advantage of the communication platform your company is already using, such as Slack, to celebrate accomplishments of all sizes. Recognizing small achievements along the way to larger objectives boosts morale across the company.
In-person getaways. Creating fun traditions such as an annual “End of the Year” celebration can be planned and hosted as an in-person team getaway. Choose a centralized location and commemorate the successes and achievements of the past year. Some activities could include award ceremonies and personal thank-yous to each employee.
There are so many unique recognition methods to help you properly celebrate a remote team. What’s important is finding the right ones for your company and your employees to ensure everyone feels acknowledged for their accomplishments.