Remote work has become increasingly popular, especially with the global pandemic that confounded the world in 2020. According to a report by FlexJobs, the number of remote workers increased by 44% in the United States of America. While working remotely offers several benefits, including better work-life balance and greater flexibility, maintaining team cohesion can be a challenge. Remote workers achieve their assignments independently, without the daily face-to-face interaction that office spaces provide. This article aims to explore different strategies, tools, and activities that keep remote teams motivated, cohesive, and productive.
Communication is the backbone of successful teamwork, and remote teams need to employ effective communication tools to avoid loneliness and isolation. Here, we will explore four essential communication tools for remote teams.
Slack: Slack is one of the leading team communication tools for remote teams. The tool makes communication more conversational and eliminates emails to make communication more productive, efficient, and simpler. Slack allows team members to text, make calls and video, and share files. It also facilitates the use of several third-party apps such as Zoom, Google Docs, and Dropbox. Slack conversation threads can be searched and retrieved, and users can create channels to share work updates, files, and ideas.
Zoom: Zoom allows remote workers to have virtual face-to-face communication with their colleagues anywhere, anytime. The tool is easy to use and provides a platform for live video, messaging, and provides a whiteboard on which to write and share ideas. Zoom allows for screen sharing and breakout rooms, which helps facilitate virtual meetings where multiple attendees can join and interact with one another. At the end of a meeting, the chat feature in Zoom provides an avenue for added comments and suggestions.
Asana: Asana is a team collaboration tool for remote workers that facilitates project management. Asana allows team members to assign tasks, share files and permits commenting on those tasks. Asana’s messaging feature allows for real-time feedback, and its task list enables users to know where work is needed.
Trello: Trello is a visual collaboration tool that organizes remote team duties into project boards. Trello is customizable and allows remote teams to organize ideas and prioritize work by adding labels, checklists, and attachments. Trello’s drag-and-drop interface enables easy movement of cards and eliminates clutter in the process.
Without adequate communication tools, remote team members may feel disconnected, isolated, and uninformed about project developments.
Video meetings have become integral in the remote work culture, given their usefulness in fostering social bonds among team members. Video meetings help remote teams improve communication, collaboration, and work productivity. Here are some best video conferencing tools that boost remote teamwork:
GoToMeeting: GoToMeeting enables video, screen sharing, and meeting recordings. The tool features an interactive whiteboard and a virtual hand raising option that allows remote team members to express their views verbally.
Google Meet: Google Meet is a free tool designed for brief video calls. The tool’s minimal interface is user-friendly, easy to operate, and offers features such as recording, captions, and screen sharing.
Skype: Skype offers a variety of video and voice-based communication programs, including Skype for Business. Other exciting features of Skype include screen sharing, whiteboarding, and collaborative note-taking.
Team Building and Morale
Team-building activities and tools can help remote workers collaborate and build their social bonds. Team-building activities help increase motivation, foster creativity, and build trust amongst remote team members.
Virtual Happy Hour: Virtual Happy Hour remains the most popular activity for remote teams. It involves members of the remote team coming together virtually after work hours to chat over a drink and establish rapport. Remote teams can also take this as an opportunity to play games, trivia, and other fun activities that help cement team bonds.
Virtual Team Lunch: Virtual Team Lunch can take place every week, with remote team members taking lunch together, possibly taking turns to add a unique touch to the gathering. Remote workers can use this opportunity to discuss ideas outside formal meetings and establish personal rapport.
Remote Game Night: Remote Game Night is a fun-filled opportunity for remote teams to participate in collective play. Teams can engage in different online games such as virtual Pictionary or charades, which can help boost team morale.
Growing professional development in remote teams enhances employees’ productivity and motivates them to learn and grow their individual careers. Below are different ways remote teams can achieve professional development.
Peer Mentoring: Peer mentoring is a form of career growth where experienced team members guide new hires or pick up new skills from co-workers. Both parties mutually develop in the process, and it works as an effective initiative to help remote team members challenge and improve their professional growth.
Online Learning: Several online platforms offer remote workers with access to online courses, certifications or books, including Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, and Coursera. Such courses help remote workers learn new skills and stay up-to-date with innovative professional concepts.
Virtual Conferences and Webinars: Remote teams can enjoy the benefits of many virtual conferences and webinars that offer bite-size learning experiences. Some examples include TED Talks, International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), and SummitsWorld.
Celebrating the success of remote team members and milestones help to humanize the work relationship and enhance remote workers’ motivation to perform better. Celebrating team accomplishments sets team members up for success and fosters a sense of loyalty and solidarity towards the workplace. Here are three ways to celebrate remote team wins:
Personalized Messages or Emails: Personalized messages or emails to remote team members acknowledging achievements can be a simple and effective way of celebrating wins.
Celebration Meetings and Virtual Events: Remote teams can mark significant milestones that celebrate individual or team achievements through virtual gatherings, meetings, or online events. These events can always have games, trivia, and other activities to make the occasions more festive.
Recognition Awards: Recognition awards are designed to recognize excellent performance by remote workers. These awards help remote team members to receive credit and feedback on work performance.
Remote teams face various challenges, including isolation, communication barriers, and building team dynamics. Utilizing different tools, activities, and strategies such as communication tools, video meetings, team building activities, fostering professional growth, and celebrations, can help remote teams build cohesive relationships at work. Remote team members also need to have an organizational culture that supports remote work to enhance their performance. Remote teams are here to stay, and organizations must continually explore new ways of enhancing remote teamwork that promotes cohesion and productivity in a virtual work environment.