Merely interacting with your group of remote employees isn’t enough! It’s very important to make sure you build a working relationship with them. These 10 awesome tips lay the groundwork for properly leading a remote team.
1. Use the right tools
Video meetings, IMing, and emailing are all effective ways to keep in contact. Decide which ones work best, and how often you’d like to see these communications. Maintaining a group calendar is extremely helpful, so nobody is left out of group-wide announcements. Do some research to find the best tools, based on your team’s needs.
Here is a list of tools that we would and already have recommended in our blog post series “The Challenges of Remote Working”:
Notes and Documents
Time Zone Scheduling
Human Resource Management
For any other tools you might need
2. Get the team on board with those tools
Find the right tools for your team, and stick with them. Once you’ve found the most effective programs, make sure you hold a training session–don’t just assume people will pick them up right away. Keeping an open line of communication during the implementation of these tools is key to their success.
3. Maintain the “water cooler” culture
Part of the draw of an office environment is the face-to-face interactions and casual banter with coworkers. It’s easy to transpose this type of culture onto a remote team. Simply send a message, or make a phone call catching up with the employee, about the employee, not any current projects. Perhaps she recently ran a marathon, or he adopted a chinchilla. Whatever the event, by asking you’re opening up a more relaxed dialogue. Work isn’t fun when you just talk about work!
4. Have meetings over voice calls
It’s important to maintain both voice and text communication. Since the vast majority of the time, we communicate via email or IM, tone can be lost in translation. By checking in through a call on a regular basis, you’ll make sure your entire team is on the same page. Interacting with the team in real-time is essential to maintain the aforementioned “water cooler” culture. It allows everyone to bond as people, more than can be attained solely through a screen.
5. Host annual “hack-a-thons”
A hack-a-thon is a period of time in which your remote teams comes together for a solid month of intense work. This time allows you to regroup, and plan the next projects in-depth for the upcoming year. Everyone has the ability to input ideas, or throw up suggestions. Open dialogue during these events is crucial to their success, as it provides grounds for creative brilliance. Plus, it allows your team to interact face-to-face, forming more concrete bonds.
6. Ensure they have access to great Internet and mobile connection
Without a solid Internet connection, it’s impossible to communicate and work effectively. Make sure that everyone has strong connectivity, and for those with spotty coverage, offer a reliable mobile hotspot. This could be in shape of a memebership at the nearby Co-Working Space for example. Taking these steps shows you care about your employees, and it mitigates potential technical issues. This is a mutually beneficial and affordable step for both parties.
Taking these steps shows you care about your employees, and it mitigates potential technical issues. This is a mutually beneficial and affordable step for both parties.
7. Set the expectations and culture for the team
Your actions set the tone for the way in which your team interacts amongst peers and higher-ups. By making yourself available no matter what, while practicing tight, frequent communication you set the standards for your team. Therefore, maintaining productivity, providing motivation, and having fun, gives your team the grounds to follow suit. The way you treat your employees is directly reflected in the way they interact with you. Be the employee you want on your team.
8. Encourage work/life balance
Working employees to death will only lead to high turnover and perpetual apathy. Instead, encourage your team to prioritize their own health and happiness. Sometimes a mental health day is necessary after that huge push to finish a project on a tight deadline. When your team is in tip-top shape, they’ll be far more productive. Just like a plant, you need to nurture your team. If you only give them the bare essentials, they’ll do well, but if you give them extra support in their personal lives, they’ll flourish.
9. Encourage everyone on the team to lead a meeting…
…or teach the group something new, as a part of a weekly meeting. At Mailbird, we rotate which person on each of our teams will be presenting business updates. You can mold this idea to fit any group or meeting. This brings your remote team together for a number of reasons. It allows them to take meeting responsibilities, even though they’re not in the office. Additionally, it creates an environment conducive to learning. People retain information when they teach it to someone else, so it’s beneficial for all parties.
10. Be respectful and flexible to different cultures and mindsets.
There are often many ways to reach the same solution. Keeping an open mind to learning about each other’s differences builds a strong team bond. This understanding fosters the notion that everyone has the support of all team members.
*Bonus: make work FUN! 😀
They say you’ll never work a day in your life if you love what you do. Why not nurture this ideology within your workplace? The importance of both work and play is true whether you are in the same office, or working remotely anywhere in the world!
Implement these tips and you’ll see your remote team blossom before your very eyes. If you remember anything from these tips, it’s that finding the right kind and amount of communication is vital. Go forth and communicate!