Teams of people are what drive results. If your team has one or more of the four million employees who work from home at least half of the time, you know that it can be a challenge to make that team work as a cohesive unit. That’s largely because not having every team member in the same space increases the difficulty of including remote workers and fostering collaboration between them and in-office employees.
Building a successful remote team takes a bit of effort, but the payoff is huge. Here are some tips for ensuring that remote employees and in-office employees will succeed as a team.
#1: Leverage Communication Technology
Regardless of whether your team members are in-office or working remotely, communication is key. You must provide an efficient way for members of your entire team to communicate with each other. Because we live in the digital age, we have access to an over-abundance of communication tools. There are almost too many ways for team members to “talk” among themselves. So, pick one tool and use its features to get your team on the same page.
Apps like Slack or Stride greatly reduce the need for time-consuming conference calls and long email chains. They keep all conversations in a centralized location and allow team members to communicate with the group or with individual team members. And, because they are cloud-based, everyone can easily access the platform through their computers or mobile devices.
#2: Hold Virtual Meetings
Communicating through digital messages is effective for many things. But, sometimes your team needs to see each other’s faces without the need for remote employees to come into the office. That can be accomplished by holding daily or weekly virtual meetings. Everyone, in-office and off-site employees, are expected to attend.
Be sure to hold the meeting in a room that can accommodate your team. And, don’t worry about needing to invest in special video conferencing hardware and software. You can simply use Skype’s group video chat feature. It allows up to 25 people to participate in the call. Join.me, TrueConf, and Zoom, all have similar features.
The main drawback to holding virtual meetings is that they’re virtual. It can be challenging to have conversations because it is difficult for remote workers to read the body language and facial cues of the rest of the team. Consequently, remote workers may feel left out of the micro-interactions that facilitate effective communication.
#3: Hold In-Office Meetings
Virtual meetings are great. Still, when it comes to managing a team, there’s no substitute for having all hands physically on deck. Get your remote employees into the office on a regular basis. Just by being in the office, they can better absorb the culture of the organization. This is an undervalued outcome. The organization’s culture is the glue that keeps the organization together and moving forward. If a remote employee feels left out of that culture, they feel left out of the team. This can result in the employee creating their own toxic work environment.
#4: Progress Monitoring
Here’s where your managerial skills kick in. It’s crucial that you keep up with how your team is progressing with their tasks. There’s no way to look over the shoulders of remote workers. So, you need a progress-tracking strategy that keeps you from losing touch with them.
Based on the nature of their work, it’s a good idea to have periodic one-on-ones with each remote employee. These meetings allow you to follow up on existing assignments as well as make new ones. You can also point out areas where the employee can improve. Because you are managing during these meetings, you can give the employee the opportunity to ask questions or express their concerns. All of these things help the remote employee feel less isolated from the team.
#5: Hold a Monthly Group Lunch
Another important thing to consider when you have remote employees is that it’s difficult for them to form bonds with their colleagues. Those bonds are critical to creating a cohesive team and cultivating collaboration.
One effective way to establish and nurture bonds is to hold monthly group lunches. These catered lunches create a comfortable environment that provides the opportunity for casual conversations that create lasting relationships that contribute to the success of the team.
So, if it’s your responsibility to manage a team with in-office and remote workers, keep these tips in mind. They could mean the difference between a team that struggles to meet its goals and a team that high-performing.