Seven Easy Ways To Better Support Your Remote Team Remote work necessitates a shift in approaches to how team efficiency, collaboration, and transparency are maintained.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
The last two years have completely changed the way we do things, and one of the key trends we have come to accept is remote working. A Gartner CFO survey reveals that 74% CFOs and leaders intend to shift some employees to remote work for good.
As a team leader, this means that you need to adapt to managing a remote team. While this might be a little more than you ever bargained for, change is a rising wave that you either learn how to ride, or it will knock you off.
Now that you are ready to face the new reality of the modern workplace, the big question is: how do you offer better support to your remote team?
It takes a lot to inspire your employees, but this is the price you have to pay for better productivity. However, beyond learning how to keep your employees motivated, you need to recognize that managing a remote team is a whole new ballgame.
The good news is that even without physical contact, you can still offer your team the right support and ensure high productivity in these seven ways.
1. Become a digital leader
We are in an age where the digital structure of an organization is as important as the skills and expertise of its workforce. To be future-proof and in a position to lead a remote team, you have to become a digital leader.
Being a digital leader is hinged on ensuring your team members have the right digital tools for their daily work. This means being in touch with the latest technology advancements in your industry and understanding team needs that you can ease with specific tools.
You have to ensure that your remote team has all the necessary tools from operational software, office equipment, proper office furniture, etc. By providing your team with these essentials, you not only show that you care, but they will also be inclined to have more interest in their work.
2. Have a work structure that supports regular interactions
One of the biggest challenges facing remote teams is isolation. With everyone working from different locations, teams might end up losing out on their collaborative culture‒ one that transcends just having the job done.
In my 20+ years of studying employee experience, I've identified various key aspects of workplace culture that indicate how socially connected and supported employees are more productive. Some of the key findings include:
- People feel like they "belong"
- Employees believe that they have each other's backs
- Management becomes more approachable
- Cooperation between employees becomes much simpler with better results
- There is a sense of fun
So, how do you achieve all these in a remote setup? First things first, ensure that you have a proper communication channel between and to your employees. The next thing would be to have regular one-on-ones with individual employees (or with their direct supervisors, in case it is a large team) every week. At least once a month would suffice for overly busy environments.
3. Don't micromanage
Part of the appeal of remote working for employees is the autonomy they get. However, it is pretty easy to assume that your employees aren't working as they should when you're not sitting next to them. Before you notice, you can easily develop a micromanaging behavior. This is when leaders continuously bombard their remote employees with communication and lots of questions regarding progress reports.
While you may think that you're keeping them on their toes, it can actually turn out to be a stressful occurrence to both parties. For starters, it makes your employees feel like they're not trusted to do their work.
Instead, focus on the goals and outcomes, not necessarily the hours spent. As long as your employees aren't missing out on deadlines and having good results, their work style is irrelevant.
Related: How Digital Leadership Inspires Staff Productivity
4. Have rules of engagement
Remote workers need to be in an environment that allows them to focus on their professional duties, family and personal interests. As such, you need to draw a line between effective communication and disturbances.
The only way to do this is by having rules of engagement that suit your remote team. It would be best if you did not create these rules in a vacuum, as they need to be aligned to your team's needs and expectations.
5. Make collaboration easier- teamwork always wins
A big mistake that most team leaders make is assuming that remote workers have to operate independently. Boosting collaboration among remote workers is an ingredient to success as it keeps everyone focused on the goals at hand.
Strive to make collaboration easier by having your team members continuously interact and achieve objectives as a group. Agile collaboration also ensures that working remotely does not become monotonous and everyone is on board with the goals to be achieved.
6. Offer genuine emotional and leadership support
As a team leader, you need to recognize that increasingly, more remote workers are battling employee loneliness and emotional issues. When dealing with all team members, use empathy and understanding as this is the core of compassionate leadership. Remember that rigidity and lack of social engagement should never be the defining pillars of today's work environment.
Remember to offer leadership support by having a sustainable plan that revolves around actively assessing each team member's contribution and helping them grow professionally. This means making performance reviews an ongoing activity and enhancing visibility on what other team members are doing.
You should also not forget about the importance of introducing team members to valuable resources and training materials in their specialty areas. This will boost their sense of belonging while enabling them to remain competitive as they acquire better skills and know-how for accomplishing their duties.
7. Make time for fun
There's a phrase I keep close to heart: "Team members who laugh together grow closer together." Everything that you discuss with your employees shouldn't just be work-related. Make time for fun too. Before the start (or towards the end) of your regular meetings, you can ask them what's new in their lives, any exciting things they'd like to share, etc.
Furthermore, you can also have a structure that will help the team members to grow closer. Some ideas to get you started are:
- Create online channels for non-work banter. Here, everyone's free to discuss any topics they'd want, such as sports, share memes, movie ideas, etc.
- Create a trivia night, and incorporate other fun games like Bingo online.
- Start a virtual book club.
Remote work is changing the traditional way of managing and handling employees. This necessitates a shift in approaches to how team efficiency, collaboration, and transparency are maintained. On the brighter side, these gaps can be sealed by having the right digital infrastructure and being an active team leader who constantly goes the extra mile. The future of remote work means being as flexible as possible, and only then will you have a highly efficient team.