If you think creating a culture of collaboration, trust and support has its challenges when everyone is in the same building 40 hours a week, try it when most of the team are rarely in the same space.
Remote work is here, and it’s here to stay – and managing remote teams is going to be a part of every leader’s responsibilities at some point. As companies continue to decentralize operations, open up to a distributed workforce and accommodate staff working virtually, the question of how to keep the team connected, build camaraderie and ensure a high-level of collaboration are top of mind for managers.
We often work with teams in the Atlanta-area (through our Team Building Atlanta workshops), that have members who work remotely, resulting in the group not being able to spend much time together in the same space. These custom-designed sessions are great ways to connect staff, while highlighting techniques and templates they can use to create an environment where collaboration and communication thrive – directly leading to a team that feels supported and stays engaged.
If you lead a group with some (or all) staff working virtually, here are a few tips to help with managing remote teams.
Engage Early and Often
It’s important to create a pattern of engagement (even over-engagement) with remote staff right away. Connecting with them on a daily basis is ideal if possible, making it part of the routine communication between them and the office.
Technology has made this eminently easy to do, and to do in an effective way. You can use multiple channels to communicate, but whatever the method, make time for the daily connection.
Create a virtual meeting place
A follow-up to the tip above is to create a virtual place where everyone can connect.
Video Conferencing – One option is to use video conferencing as part of this meeting place. It’s important for virtual staff to see one another regularly, something that wasn’t always that easy to facilitate even a few years ago, but now there are several very good options for video conferencing. Seeing the people you’re talking with enhances the communication and connection amongst team members (and visual cues are an important part of communicating).
But even an instant messaging app, or a social media platform will work. The key is for it to be inclusive and real-time. Use it both informally for the team to chat, as well as formally, with scheduled meetings for the entire group, keeping everyone engaged and feeling they’re a part of the team.
Meet in person
Face-to-face time is still a “good-to-have”, so schedule that in (on whatever frequency works for you – it could be weekly, monthly, quarterly or even annually). These in-person meetings are often a good fit when combined with a strategy meeting, development program or training of some sort.
We’ve also found these meetings are a particularly good time to book a Team Building Workshop for the group. If you’re getting together once every few months, or even once a year, a team building session, like the ones we design, is a perfect way to kick-off the meetings. You’ll share a lot of laughter together while bonding, and work on ways a remote team can continue to effectively collaborate, communicate and support each other.
Embracing remote work is no longer a scary proposition…and in fact, when rolled out and supported properly, having a percentage of the work force working remotely can enhance culture, rather than negatively impact it.
If you’d like to learn more about the Team Building Workshops we custom design for our clients, connect with Matt Horgan at Matt@dadsgarage.com or by phone at (404) 523-3141 x 205.
(if your team is getting together in the Dallas-area, check out Improv to Improve for a Team Building experience for your group. You can learn more here – Team Building Dallas)