Remote working has become increasingly popular in recent years. More and more companies are adopting remote working approaches to attract top talent, increase productivity, and reduce costs associated with traditional office spaces. The benefits of remote work are undeniable, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. Perhaps, the most significant of these challenges is inclusivity. Inclusive remote teams are essential for creating a happy and productive workforce. This is because inclusivity makes employees feel valued, respected, and included, which, in turn, boosts morale and ensures everyone’s professional growth. In this article, we’ll explore the strategies companies can adopt to create inclusive remote teams.
Communicate Regularly and Effectively
Effective communication is the foundation of any successful remote team. Communication helps build relationships, trust, and collaboration. It ensures everyone is aligned and on the same page. Regular check-ins, video calls, and instant messaging can help create a sense of teamwork and belonging. While it may seem like an obvious point, it’s important to realize that remote teams require more communication than in-office teams. This is because you can’t rely on face-to-face interaction to build relationships and get things done. Instead, you need to establish clear channels of communication and ensure everyone is using them effectively. There are several ways to establish effective communication channels in remote teams:
a. Use Video for Meetings and Check-Ins
Video is an excellent tool for remote teams. It allows you to see your colleagues’ facial expressions and body language, which can help you understand their emotions and intentions better. This is important for building trust and fostering a sense of belonging. Video calls can be used for regular check-ins, team meetings, and one-on-one discussions. Platforms like Zoom and Google Meet are useful for this purpose.
b. Use Chat Apps for Instant Messaging
Instant messaging apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams are useful for remote teams. They allow you to communicate quickly and easily, cutting down on the need for long email threads. They also allow you to create channels for specific projects or topics, ensuring that discussions are organized and easy to find.
c. Establish Clear Communication Guidelines
Clear communication guidelines are essential for remote teams. These guidelines should specify the preferred mode of communication for different situations, as well as the expected response time for each mode. For example, you may want to establish that urgent issues should be handled through a phone call or video call, while less pressing matters can be handled through email or instant messaging.
Foster a Sense of Belonging
Feeling like you’re part of a team is essential to creating a feeling of belonging. It’s important to make remote employees feel like they are part of the team, rather than just being out on their own. This is important for building morale and ensuring that employees feel motivated and engaged. Here are some strategies for fostering a sense of belonging among remote teams:
a. Create Opportunities for Social Interaction
Social interaction is essential for building relationships and fostering a sense of belonging. Remote teams should create opportunities for social interaction beyond work-related discussions. This can be through virtual coffee breaks, team building activities, or online games. These activities help employees bond and form stronger relationships, which help boost morale.
b. Use Personalization in Communication
Personalization is important for making employees feel valued and understood. In remote teams, personalization can be achieved by addressing employees by their first names, using emojis or Bitmojis to add personality in chat messages, and using personalized messages to congratulate employees on their achievements.
c. Set Shared Goals and Objectives
Working towards shared goals is important for creating a sense of teamwork and belonging. Shared goals help employees feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves, which is essential for boosting morale. Remote teams can create shared goals by establishing team objectives or KPIs that everyone is working towards, reinforcing the sense of belongingness and the idea that everyone’s contributions are valuable for the team’s success.
Be Mindful of Time Zones
Working across time zones can be challenging when it comes to scheduling meetings and managing productive work hours. It’s important to be mindful of these challenges when building teams and setting deadlines. Be flexible with scheduling and try to work out a schedule that works for everyone. Consider scheduling meetings at different times to ensure that everyone can attend at least some of them.
To keep track of time zones, you can use tools like World Time Buddy or Timezone.io. You can also set up shared calendars that show everyone’s availability across different time zones.
Here are some tips for managing time zones in remote teams:
a. Be Flexible with Scheduling
When scheduling meetings or deadlines, be flexible with timings to accommodate employees from different time zones. This may mean scheduling meetings outside of normal working hours or scheduling them at different times depending on the employees’ locations.
b. Use Time Zone Converters
Tools like World Time Buddy or Timezone.io can help you convert time zones quickly and accurately. They allow you to see everyone’s availability and ensure that everyone is on the same page when scheduling meetings or deadlines.
c. Provide Time Zone Guidelines
Provide employees with clear guidelines on how to manage time zones. This may include guidelines on scheduling meetings, setting reminders for deadlines, and communicating across time zones.
Encourage Diversity and Acceptance
Encouraging diversity and acceptance is essential for creating an inclusive remote team. Remote teams should promote a culture of acceptance regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation. A diverse workforce can bring different perspectives and ideas, which can help fuel creativity and innovation. Here are some tips on how to encourage diversity and acceptance in remote teams:
a. Embrace Different Perspectives
Encourage employees to share their different perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences. This can help build a stronger team by bringing in new ideas and viewpoints. Emphasize the value of different perspectives and encourage team members to actively seek out different opinions.
b. Promote Open Communication
Create an environment where employees feel comfortable speaking up and sharing their opinions. Encourage open communication within the team and establish clear guidelines for respectful communication.
c. Establish Diversity and Inclusion Policies
Establish policies that promote diversity and inclusion. These policies should outline how the company values and supports different perspectives and beliefs. Ensure that employees are aware of these policies and that they are reflected in the company’s culture.
Reward and Recognize Contribution
Acknowledging the contribution of remote employees is important to making them feel valued and included. It’s important to recognize the achievements of remote employees and ensure that they get the same opportunities for growth and recognition as their in-office counterparts. Here are some ways to reward and recognize remote employees:
a. Create Recognition Programs
Recognition programs can help encourage remote employees by rewarding high performers or exceptional achievements. These programs can take the form of monetary incentives, certificates, or public recognition.
b. Offer Growth Opportunities
Remote employees should be offered the same growth opportunities as in-office employees. This may include opportunities for training, mentoring, or leadership roles. Ensure that remote employees are aware of these opportunities and that they are accessible to them.
c. Provide Feedback Regularly
Feedback is important for remote employees to understand how they are performing and to identify areas where they can improve. Provide feedback regularly, ensure that it is specific, actionable, and provided in a timely manner.
Provide Adequate Training and Development
Providing training and development opportunities for remote employees is essential for their professional growth and for keeping them engaged. It’s important to invest in their development and growth by providing access to training workshops or webinars, mentorship opportunities, and providing access to relevant resources. This will help them feel motivated and confident in their abilities, further contributing to their professional success.
Here are some ways companies can provide adequate training and development for remote employees:
a. Offer Online Training
Online training is a great way to provide remote employees with access to training resources. You can use platforms like Coursera or Udemy to offer courses related to your business and industry.
b. Provide Mentorship Opportunities
Mentorship opportunities can help remote employees grow and develop their skills. Pairing remote employees with in-office staff or other remote workers who have more experience can be a great way to provide mentorship opportunities.
c. Provide Access to Relevant Resources
Remote employees should have access to the resources they need to succeed. This may include access to tools and software, as well as access to relevant industry news and information.
Respect Work-Life Balance
Encouraging a healthy work-life balance is essential for remote employees. Remote working can easily blur the lines between work and personal life. To prevent this, it’s important to respect work-life boundaries and provide employees with the flexibility they need to manage both their personal and professional responsibilities.
Here are some ways to respect work-life balance in remote teams:
a. Respect Working Hours
Remote employees should be respected just like their office counterparts. This includes respecting their working hours and ensuring that they have a work-life balance. Remote team managers should not send work-related emails outside of work hours or expect remote employees to work during weekends or holidays.
b. Offer Flexibility
Offer flexibility in working schedules and time management schedules. This may include offering part-time options, flexible working hours, or the ability to work from different locations.
c. Encourage Self-Care
Encourage self-care practices, such as regular breaks or meditation exercises. This helps reduce stress and burnout, making the employees more productive and motivated.
Creating an inclusive remote team is essential for creating a happy and productive workforce. Remote teams require different strategies for promoting inclusivity compared to in-office teams. It is important to establish effective communication channels, foster a sense of belonging, be mindful of time zones, encourage diversity and acceptance, reward and recognize contributions, provide adequate training and development, and respect work-life balance. Remote team managers should not overlook these strategies while building a remote team. By following these strategies, the company can create an inclusive culture and work towards creating a space where everyone values and respects each other’s differences, thereby ensuring professional success, growth, diversity, and inclusivity.