The Top 6 steps to improve your team’s culture when you’re Remote

Welcome to the world of remote work.

Are you worried your employees are decelerating on their projects? Are you struggling to help them?

Before the Coronavirus hit, 3.6% of US employees worked from home either part-time or full time. In the present day, with the pandemic shuttering the workplaces, the figure has skyrocketed. Yet, working remotely during this unique time while sharing the home with kids, spouses, roommates, and pets is certainly not business as usual. Even work-from-home veterans are struggling to get their work done. Therefore, business leaders need a new game plan to overcome operational challenges. 

Shaken by external crisis, here are a few ways business leaders can support their remote-working employees during this unprecedented situation.

  1. Communicate Effectively

Remote work should not feel different from working at the office. At this time, when leaders cannot gather staff in the same room, they opt for ‘video conferencing.’ Specific tasks are difficult to accomplish from home and you spend your mornings catching up with your team. Problem-solving should not be the only reason to make video calls with your colleagues. Use the opportunity to bond and build rapport. Decisive leaders should eliminate certain tasks and inform the team on which projects to prioritize. Team meetings should give a glimpse of the bigger picture. Craft a communication plan.

2. Lead your team by example

Leaders can misjudge the extent to which their employees emulate their behavior and action. Leaders should become archetypal of the behavior they want to see in others. Employees want to feel autonomous while still being in alignment with the team.

3. Move to asynchronous work

Given the disruption in the 9 to 5 work schedule, focus on projects that do not need synchronization. All work does not need to happen at the same time. Focus on projects that workers can execute on their own schedules. Employees can wake up in different cities and time zones and start working on their projects.

Learn to have enough patience and understand that work does not happen instantaneously. This new norm needs to be embraced.

4. Focus on outcomes rather than monitoring activities

Leaders who are new to managing remote working employees might gravitate towards keeping close tabs on their team members. They might send multiple follow up emails to check whether or not the employees are staying on track with their projects.

This type of micro-managing, which many companies practice, sends a message to employees; ‘We do not trust you.’ This can create a toxic culture; while they feel they are losing control over their employees. Consequently, insecurities develop.

Instead of monitoring employee activities, focus on individual productivity based on the outcome. Let go of the fear and trust that competent people are not slacking off.

5. Provide tools for better communication

Productivity can suffer, leading to failed outcomes if your employees do not have the right tools. If you are hiring an employee remotely, determine if you are providing enough tools to organize and manage projects and to communicate. Give them online access to a multitude of platforms where they can communicate and collaborate on materials to support the products or services of your business.

6. Keep your remote team connected

The practice of involving everyone can make your employees feel like they are part of the team. It calls for having transparent processes in place to ensure that all the team members working a project are involved. In a situation as uncertain as today, you are required to put in more effort in teambuilding than before. Regular day-to-day interaction, weekly reports, and small-talks moments can develop connections and make the employees feel involved in the matter at hand.

Find opportunities to stay engaged with your team with casual talk but within the proper boundaries.

Final thoughts

You might have become adapted to the new lifestyle and culture of remote work from home. If that is the case, it will most likely be challenging to return to the office. It takes mindful attention, patience, and resilience to foster a connection when the team is working remotely. Even a highly distributed, multi-time-zone team can cultivate a winning remote work culture.