I’m writing this from home, with my dog, Mika, near me.
It’s not because of the COVID-19 scare.
It’s because The Simons Group doesn’t have an office.
We all used to work in a downtown skyscraper. As time went on, our team members needed more flexibility and craved a better work-life balance. We listened and adapted gradually over the past five years, becoming a fully remote team with members across the United States.
Since this virtual world is my norm, I wanted to share tips on how you can foster a happy and productive environment if you can’t see your staff and coworkers face-to-face because of the current climate or if you want to offer your team more flexibility.
Follow These Steps for Remote Team Success
1. Trust your team. This is my first tip because, without trust, you’ll fail at fostering a successful virtual work environment, whether it’s for the long term or temporarily. If you’re running a virtual team (at least a successful one), you can’t be a micromanager. You need to trust that your people will continue doing the work and completing their tasks on time. Remember why you hired them. Just because you don’t see them every day doesn’t mean they’ll work less.
2. Be clear. Set clear expectations. Prepare your virtual team with clear project roles and responsibilities, discuss specific team member goals to keep everyone accountable, set due dates and track key project metrics as if you were in an office. If your employees understand what they need to accomplish, when they need to accomplish it and how their roles fit into the bigger picture, they’ll be prepared to meet your expectations whether you’re there in person or telecommuting.
3. Unsee the seen. Get the idea out of your head that full conference rooms, the sound of keys clacking on computers and watercooler chatter means your team is productive. Instead, focus on whether the work is getting done (this is where tracking key metrics comes in handy). Employees don’t miss their deadlines simply because they’re not in their offices. Measure virtual team members by their accomplishments – not by the noise they make.
4. Stay connected. If your employees are used to daily in-person interactions, working remotely may make them feel lonely and disconnected. Consistent communication is crucial. Try to engage with your team members daily, either as a group or individually, via video meetings, one-on-one check-in calls or instant messaging chats. This constant interaction will keep your team members connected and make them feel included and valued.
5. Use the tools. The modern world has provided us with all the technological tools to collaborate productively, whether we work face-to-face or across multiple time zones. Take full advantage of chat and collaboration tools, video calling, screen sharing, project management software, your company’s intranet and texting. Use the right tool for the function. For example, think about discussing performance via video so that you can foster a more personal connection. If you need a quick response, try a short text message. If you need to comment on or assign a task, use your project management system.
Adjusting to a Virtual Team
If you and your employees are forced to work from home unexpectedly, it will be an adjustment. Just remember, you already have the know-how and the tools to bring your virtual team together and keep members connected and thriving until they can be face-to-face again.
Get more remote work tips and information in our in-depth report about the future of remote work.
Is your team working remotely partially or in full? How is everyone adjusting to the new normal? Let us know in the comments below.