Remote work has taken over the world by storm, and it is here to stay. The number of remote workers globally is growing rapidly, and companies are adopting this style of work for various reasons like avoiding overhead costs, talent acquisition, and lower employee turnover. Building a strong and connected remote team can be a challenge as it has its own set of problems like communication and collaboration barriers, lack of social interaction, and loneliness. To tackle these challenges, innovative ideas and best practices need to be implemented.
In this blog, we are going to explore various steps that can be taken to build a robust and connected remote team that will be productive and successful. We will discuss the importance of defining expectations and goals, hiring the right team members, establishing communication guidelines, implementing collaboration tools, encouraging social interaction, establishing a feedback culture, meeting regularly, promoting work-life balance, and fostering a strong culture.
Define Expectations and Goals
Defining expectations and goals is the first and foremost step to build a successful remote team. When working remotely, team members might not have a clear idea of what is expected of them. Before kicking off any venture, it is necessary to communicate in detail about the project’s goals and objectives, expectations, and methods of communication. Clear communication helps team members understand their roles and stay focused on the project’s objectives, preventing misunderstandings in the future.
When defining expectations, it is important to lay out project milestones and deadlines, expected deliverables, as well as the quality of the work expected. Members must understand what it would take to meet expectations and when they would be held accountable for their contributions to the project. Clear progress check-ins and regular evaluation sessions can ensure that all members meet expectations needed for project success.
Hire the Right Team Members
The right team members can make all the difference in building a successful remote team. Hiring the right talent with the requisite skill sets is crucial for the project’s success. Technical skills can be acquired, but team member’s attitudes and work ethics cannot. Two essential qualities that remote team members must-have are self-motivation and accountability. These qualities are crucial as remote work requires team members to work independently and complete their tasks without supervision. Having a robust and rigorous hiring process is vital to ensure that the selected candidate is the best fit for the team and the company culture.
When hiring remote team members, it is important to evaluate their communication and collaboration skills. This is because virtual communication is a huge part of remote work, and it is easy for team members to fall out of the loop or develop misunderstandings about communication. Candidates with experience in remote work may have special insights on how to be flexible and pivot as necessary to maintain communication and collaboration. The right hire can improve morale, productivity, and project completion success rate.
Establish Communication Guidelines
Communication is the foundation of any successful remote team. Remote team members need to communicate effectively to ensure everyone is on the same page. Establishing communication guidelines that cover which channels to use, appropriate response times, and when to use video or voice calls can go a long way in ensuring productive collaboration. Communication guidelines should be clear, concise, and easily accessible to all team members. The team needs to decide the frequency and medium of communication, and it is vital to ensure that everyone is comfortable with the communication methods.
Setting specific communication goals, such as “response times of 60 minutes during work hours” or “daily email updates summarizing progress made during the day” can improve accountability and avoid communication breakdowns while preserving the independent work nature of remote work. Communication, both synched and otherwise, helps team members stay updated and avoid misunderstandings.
Implement Collaboration Tools
Collaboration tools are the backbone of remote work, and an organization needs to use the right tools to facilitate smooth communication and collaboration. Several online tools allow team members to work together on projects, such as team chat, video conferencing, virtual whiteboards, and file-sharing. Having the right set of tools can keep the team connected and facilitate the sharing of knowledge and ideas. When choosing tools, organizations need to ensure that the tools are easy to use and accessible to all team members.
Platforms that allow for version control, or are cloud-based, can also aid in workflow flexibility, preventing lost progress and facilitating secure collaboration of team members who work at different times. This eliminates the need for team members to rely on regular meetings (which might not always happen) to share information and ensures effective project coordination.
Encourage Social Interaction
Social interaction is critical, especially for remote teams whose members can feel isolated, leading to a lack of motivation and a decrease in productivity. Encouraging social interaction through virtual team meetings, coffee breaks or interactive games, can boost morale and improve team spirit. Spending a few minutes every week just checking in with team members on non-work-related topics can go a long way in building a strong remote team.
Social interaction can aid in establishing a sense of community and purpose, reminding team members of their engagement and accountability to the project. This helps team members feel less isolated, motivated to contribute more, and work towards common goals. Remote team members should be encouraged to get to know each other outside of work hours as a way of building stronger relationships.
Establish a Feedback Culture
Feedback is crucial for any team’s success, including remote teams. Establishing an environment where team members can provide constructive feedback safely is essential. Encourage team members to share their insights, report concerns, and offer suggestions for improvement. Having regular feedback sessions can help monitor team members’ progress and detect gaps that need to be addressed early. Constructive feedback can help to improve the project’s quality and help remote team members feel valued and invested in the project’s success.
Establishing feedback protocols helps to get a sense of potential issue areas, and this input can help team members develop strategies to address such issues. Clarifying communication preferences, evaluation rubrics and other performance parameters are also essential to improving output quality.
Remote teams should hold periodic team meetings as it allows for real-time interaction among team members. It is important to establish meeting schedules that work for all team members, taking into consideration time zones and personal commitments. Scheduling regular meeting times ensures that everyone has a chance to voice their opinions and concerns. Meeting regularly also helps to create a sense of cohesion and mutual support within the team.
Regular meetings can help to reinforce daily check-ins and ensure that there are open communication lines with all members of the remote team. Routine check-ins can also allow swift resolution of any problematic issues so that remote members can remain focused on their work.
Promote Work-Life Balance
Remote team members often face the challenge of separating work from personal life since they are working from home. Encourage your team to take breaks regularly, maintain typical working hours, and prioritize their wellbeing. It is necessary to strike a balance between work and personal life to avoid burnout. Encourage team members to disconnect from work after hours and on weekends to ensure rest and recuperation.
This ensures that team members can maintain the necessary wellness to be productive but also happier, which can manifest in better overall project outcomes. Encouraging remote team members to get involved in mentally and physically stimulating activities is also beneficial, as this can help to alleviate stress.
Foster a Strong Culture
Without a physical office space, remote teams have to work harder to establish a strong company culture. Setting company values, encouraging mutual support, celebrating wins, and creating a sense of belonging can help build a strong culture for the remote team. Ensure that team members feel connected to the company culture by having regular team-building sessions and social events. Making the company culture visible and tangible to remote team members is integral to building a strong and connected remote team.
A well-defined organizational culture that emphasizes values such as honesty or excellence promotes teamwork and accountability among team members. Additionally, creating cultural flags such as rewards for outstanding work or small gifts to celebrate milestones can inspire and motivate team members, providing a sense of gratification and give them a sense of being recognized contributors.
Building a strong and connected remote team is crucial for companies to succeed in today’s remote work environment. Successful remote teams can contribute significantly to the company’s growth by ensuring that talent is spread across more geographical regions, fostering flexibility, and increasing productivity. By defining expectations and goals, hiring the right team members, establishing communication guidelines, implementing collaboration tools, encouraging social interaction, establishing a feedback culture, meeting regularly, promoting work-life balance, and fostering a strong culture, organizations can build a successful remote team. Companies need to ensure that the remote team members feel supported, valued, and invested in the project’s success for optimal performance. By following the steps discussed in this blog, companies can build a strong and connected remote team that can thrive in the remote work environment.