As more and more companies embrace remote work arrangements, managing remote teams has become a crucial skill. While remote work has many benefits, like reduced overhead costs and access to a wider pool of talent, it also presents unique challenges, such as communication barriers and the potential for isolation. As a manager, it’s your responsibility to build strong relationships with your remote team to minimize these challenges and ensure that everyone stays on the same page. Here are some expectations you should consider when building relationships with your remote team.
Communication is the bedrock of any successful relationship, be it personal or professional. When working with remote teams, it’s essential to establish clear communication expectations. Establish regular communication medium and the frequency of communication for team catch-ups. It’s good practice to hold virtual meetings using tools such as Zoom or Skype so that team members can brainstorm ideas and discuss project progress in real-time.
Other forms of communication that teamwork well for remote teams include using instant messaging tools such as Slack, email, and team collaboration software such as Trello allows team members to work together and share progress on individual tasks. Define times when everyone is required to respond to messages or email, and make it clear that checking in daily is essential.
Trust and Accountability
Trust and accountability are two sides of the same coin. Remote work arrangements can quickly break down trust and accountabilities as employees may be unmonitored, while some may take it as an opportunity to slack off. To build trust with remote teams, it’s essential to be transparent about targets and deadlines.
Create clear deadlines and communicate the importance of delivering quality work within the specified timeline. Provide checks and balances to ensure accountability, such as logging into virtual workspaces or collaborating to complete projects with teammates. Establish clear guidelines for completing assigned tasks and establish a process for review and quality assurance checks on work submitted.
Collaboration and teamwork
When working remotely, it’s easy to feel isolated from the rest of the team. Establishing a collaborative and teamwork-friendly environment is essential to building strong relationships among team members. Encourage open communication and be clear about the roles and expectations for each team member.
Encourage team members to interact with each other through online channels such as chats or video conferencing new team members should be encouraged to participate in team outings and share their opinions or ideas. Team building activities can include things such as virtual games, or even booking an event on a learning platform like Udemy where the team works together to improve their skills, build their collaboration techniques or complete training on a subject relevant to your organisation.
Convey and cultivate shared visions
Remote work arrangements can make it difficult to align everyone around the same goals and objectives. It’s essential to convey and cultivate a shared vision for your organisation or team. Ensure that everyone understands the company’s mission, values, and goals. Keep everyone informed about any changes that take place in the organisation, and why they are happening.
To build a shared vision, involve the entire team in decision-making and allow for open communication. Encourage team members to voice their opinions and ideas, and incorporate these opinions into your decision-making process. Virtual whiteboards like Mural or brainstorming and collaboration tools like Miro can also help keep everyone on the same page and fosters the exchange of ideas.
Mental and Physical Well-Being
Working remotely can sometimes be stressful, especially if team members experience problems, be it work-related or personal. As a manager, it’s essential to factor in the mental and physical well-being of the team. Encourage team members to take breaks and create a work-life balance by setting expectations around communication and availability.
Promote healthy lifestyles by encouraging exercise, good nutrition, and quality sleep. Provide tools and resources to help with stress management, including access to programs and resources such as Headspace or online workouts.
Working remotely allows for more flexibility in work schedules, but this also means that every team member won’t always be available at the same time. As a manager, it’s essential to be flexible and understanding of team members’ schedules and time zones.
Establish work schedules and deadlines that are flexible to accommodate differing work patterns, but also provide clear boundaries on when work is expected. Collaborate with team members to create a schedule that suits everyone and incentivise productivity through excellence discounts, bonuses or a completed goals chart.
Team collaboration and communication depend heavily on technology. It’s essential to be up-to-date with the software and tools used to manage your remote team. Encourage everyone to be familiar with the technology and provide training if necessary.
The tools used should be user-friendly, have straightforward interfaces, and allow for easy sharing and collaboration.
Feedback and Recognition
Providing feedback and recognising excellent work is essential when building strong relationships with remote teams. Positive feedback and recognition make team members feel appreciated and contribute to their motivation.
Provide feedback frequently and make it as constructive as possible. Celebrate wins together as a team, no matter how small, and create a culture of appreciation for a job well done.
Professional development opportunities are just as important for remote workers as they are for in-office employees. Remote teams should have access to training, mentorship, and workshops relevant to their professional growth and development.
Encourage team members to stay up-to-date with industry news and developments, and provide training opportunities to enable them to stay on top of their game.
Expectations and Boundaries
Remote work arrangements can often cause blurred boundaries between work and personal time. It’s essential to set clear expectations and boundaries for team members regarding their work schedules, the number of hours expected per week, and availability on weekends and holidays.
These expectations should be communicated early on and reinforced regularly. It’s also a good idea to provide guidelines around communication boundaries, especially for team members that work across multiple time zones.
Consistency is key when managing remote teams. As a manager, you need to be consistent in communication, feedback, and follow-up. Establish regular check-ins with team members, provide feedback promptly, and ensure everyone is working towards shared goals and vision.
Consistency also creates trust and reliability, thereby contributing to the strength of the relationships within your remote team.
Empathy and Understanding
Empathy and understanding are essential when building relationships with remote teams. Remote workers encounter unique challenges, such as isolation, lack of social connections, and work-life balance.
As a manager, it’s essential to be understanding of these challenges and provide support where necessary. Regular check-ins with team members can reveal underlying challenges and concerns that may require extra support or resources.
Leadership remains a crucial skill when managing remote teams. Create an environment that inspires innovation, creativity, and productivity. Establish clear visions and goals and encourage team members to be solution-oriented.
Encourage the growth of individual team members, while also focusing on the growth of the team as a whole. Lead by example, be approachable, and foster a culture of accountability.
Remote teams often comprise members from different parts of the world with diverse cultural backgrounds. It’s essential to be culturally sensitive when working with remote teams and acknowledge the differences that exist.
Adopt an open-minded approach, and encourage team members to share their cultural experiences openly. Provide training on cultural differences so that everyone can learn to appreciate and understand each other better.
Measure Success on Deliverables
One advantage of remote teams over in-office teams is that the focus can be placed on deliverables and outcomes rather than time spent working. As a manager, it’s essential to measure success based on deliverables, not just hours worked or face-time.
Create clear objectives, track progress, and celebrate achievements. Focusing on deliverables can encourage team members to be more productive and efficient with their time, ultimately contributing to the success of the team and the organisation as a whole.
In conclusion, managing remote teams require unique skills and considerations to build strong relationships with team members. Clear communication, trust, accountability, teamwork, shared visions, and well-being are essential in establishing relationships with team members.
Additionally, promoting flexibility, technology, feedback, recognition, professional development, expectations, consistency, empathy, cultural sensitivity, leadership, and focusing on deliverables are also important considerations.
By focusing on these expectations and considerations, building strong relationships with your remote team becomes much easier. Ultimately, it contributes to the success of your organisation and the personal and professional growth of your team members.