The shift to remote and hybrid work has become a permanent fixture for many organizations. What began as a necessity during the 2020 pandemic evolved into a shouting match between companies that were dead-set on bringing everyone back into the office and businesses that saw the numerous advantages of allowing people to work from home. So many businesses have benefited from the additional flexibility that remote and hybrid working offers, and there’s a lot of evidence to show that talented workers are actively looking for roles with that option.
But it’s not as easy as setting your remote team up with a work email and telling them to start at 9. Managing a distributed workforce presents unique challenges for supporting employees and maintaining engagement, collaboration, and productivity. There are several important ways managers can ensure their remote teams thrive.
Promote Open Communication
With employees scattered geographically, robust communication becomes even more critical. Managers should establish regular channels for team check-ins, updates, and knowledge sharing.
Tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom facilitate seamless messaging and video conferencing. Don’t just limit meetings to progress reports – encourage social interaction and team building as well. This fosters relationships despite physical distance.
Be transparent in communications to build trust. Set clear expectations around availability and response times to prevent isolation. You don’t want your team to feel like they are asking questions into the void, so tell them when you’re going to be unavailable.
Provide Technology That Enables Seamless Collaboration
Equipping staff with user-friendly technology for collaboration eliminates productivity barriers. Project management systems like Asana track workflows and progress. Content collaboration platforms like Google Drive or Office 365 allow easy file sharing and co-editing.
Messaging apps facilitate quick conversations and questions. Cloud-based phone systems transfer calls seamlessly. The right tech stack empowers seamless teamwork regardless of location.
Give Them The Software Tools They Need To Maximise Efficiency
Make sure remote employees have access to all the software tools and applications they require to perform optimally. Provide licenses and credentials to access enterprise systems remotely.
Reimburse for tools needed for personal productivity and well-being like high-speed internet, office furniture, and computer peripherals.
Offer software that optimizes workflows, like PDF editors, e-signature tools, and content automation systems. Support with setup and training as needed. Investing in their home office efficiency pays dividends. For example, a simple task like compressing PDFs can seem complicated and daunting if you don’t know what you’re doing. But a good PDF compressor can take care of things seamlessly without anyone worrying about security or quality loss. If you’re looking for software to help your team compress PDFs, visit SmallPDF. Their tools are used by more than 6,000 businesses and they’re GDPR-compliant too.
Create Opportunities For Informal Interaction
While achieving work objectives is key, don’t underestimate the value of informal social connections for team bonding and morale. Recreating this remotely requires intention. You can’t just encourage them to do it without setting anything up.
Schedule regular video coffee breaks and virtual water cooler hangouts. Use tools like Donut or Gather to randomly pair up employees for informal chats. Shared fun activities like online games, trivia, and digital happy hours also connect people. It’s all about making space for human moments in your workday.
Recognize And Reward Contributions
It’s harder to observe day-to-day contributions working remotely, so be intentional about recognition. Call out great work in team meetings and internal channels. Send thank you notes and spot bonuses for those going above and beyond.
Celebrate career milestones and service anniversaries virtually. Listen and address any concerns around the fairness of advancement and rewards. Visible recognition, even digitally, is incredibly motivating. A lot has been written about quiet quitting and the so-called Great Resignation and a lot of what it boils down to is that people don’t feel appreciated in their current roles. Show your team that you see how hard they’re working even if you’re not there in person.
Cultivate An Inclusive Remote Culture
Working remotely can unintentionally isolate those who already feel marginalized or on the periphery. Consciously nurturing inclusion prevents this.
Poll the team regularly to address problems early. Highlight underrepresented voices and perspectives in meetings and projects. Share stories, backgrounds, and experiences of diverse team members.
Model inclusive language and practices. Small actions that reinforce belonging go a long way remotely.
Provide Cross-Training And Development Opportunities
It’s easy for remote workers to feel pigeonholed into a specific role. Managers should encourage continuous learning by providing access to courses, workshops, and development programs.
Bring in experts for virtual coaching and upskilling sessions. Assign stretch opportunities and cross-training assignments to expand capabilities. Mentorships help people develop connections and leadership skills. Investing in growth keeps remote teams engaged.
Bridge The Physical Distance Occasionally
While remote work provides flexibility, occasional in-person gatherings are invaluable for forming deeper connections. If possible, organize local meetups or retreats that bring teammates together.
Even periodic touchpoints make remote relationships more engaging. Get creative with activities that let people interact in real life. The psychological boost can last for months.
Conduct Remote Work Training
Don’t assume employees intuitively know how to be productive and collaborative remotely. Conduct structured remote work training to set everyone up for success.
Cover best practices for communication, self-discipline, time management, collaboration tools, managing distractions, nurturing wellness, and more. Peer mentoring helps new remote workers learn from experienced ones. Refresher courses address evolving challenges.
Gather Regular Feedback On The Remote Experience
Check in regularly with employees on their remote work experience. Anonymous pulse surveys and focus groups provide candid input to guide improvements.
Ask about their effectiveness with remote collaboration, communication, engagement, workload, and work-life balance. Solicit ideas to address pain points. Demonstrate you’re listening by acting.
Maintain Work/Life Balance
Without a commute separating work and personal life, remote work can more easily blur boundaries and lead to burnout. It’s tough to feel like you’ve properly logged off for the day when your workplace is inside your house. Encourage taking breaks, unplugging after hours, and using vacation time. Discourage after-hours email expectations.
Set reasonable deadlines that don’t require overtime or weekend work. Check-in on people’s mental health and avoid piling on overwhelming workloads. Model sustainable habits yourself as a leader. Help preserve healthy boundaries for your team.
Encourage Peer Recognition
Managers shouldn’t be the sole source of recognition on remote teams. Encourage peer-to-peer shoutouts for great work. Tools like Bonusly facilitate this.
Recognition from colleagues often means more than from bosses. It also fosters lateral relationships and fills visibility gaps that remote managers may have.
Evaluate Remote Work Arrangements Regularly
As business conditions evolve, be open to re-evaluating remote work arrangements. Certain roles may function better with some in-office time. Stay flexible.
Discuss ongoing remote work suitability during performance reviews. Adjust based on productivity, work needs, and employee preference. Be transparent about any changes to foster trust.
Supporting a thriving remote team requires thoughtfulness, empathy, and commitment from managers. Make sure remote employees feel valued, included, and equipped for success on par with on-site counterparts. Refine your remote management skills continuously. Your team’s ability to work cohesively, be productive, and find meaning in their work depends on it.