Building trust with remote workers and developing a positive relationship with your remote team is key to the success of your business during these unsettling times. Teams that have been working remotely for years have already built this trust over time. If you are currently finding yourself managing a remote team, it is important to set the right tone starting off, there are ways to encourage this trust with your new remote team.
Build Relationships with Team Members
Work relationships will be very different working from home as opposed to working together in the office. Overcome these challenges by building trust. This can be achieved in a number of ways, for example, you could encourage your remote team to communicate outside of work topics as they would in the office. During stressful times team members should bond by their experiences throughout it. Team members will be naturally more willing to come together, relax and bond over non work-related subjects. Aloha, a Slack extension will help with this by allowing your team to add to channels like #lunch or #movies where members can discuss these topics.
Other strategies include one on one video checkins between senior and junior staff where the focus not just on current tasks but also on wider issues such as how the staff members is dealing with the remote environment. Go a step further and offer amenities that can alleviate the challenges that come with being isolated during the working week. This could include a subscription to a mindfulness app (we’ve heard good things about headspace).
“Treat your peers as interesting fellow humans, and you may be surprised what it does for their motivation, dedication, and engagement” – Camille Fournier, CTO at Rent the Runway
Fight the urge to micromanage. If you don’t it will end you because it’s a hundred times more difficult in a remote environment. Allowing staff to get on with the work and make their own mistakes will pay dividends in both the medium and long terms. This doesn’t have to reduce accountability. Instead, develop some form of structured reporting where staff upload their progress on various tasks to a shared platform which is has by set deadlines and clearly outlined responsibilities. We’ve tried a couple of online tools for this and have had success with both Dropbox Paper and Asana.
Ensure Staff are Comfortable
Home offices are notorious for being unsuitable for a 8 hour working day. The kitchen table has it’s limits so if you’re moving to remote long term then consider providing allowance for some home office furniture. At a minimum provide a proper desks, office chair and appropriate lighting. You could also include some wall decorations keeping in mind that your staff member may need to communicate with customers and clients over video. A total budget of €800 per team member should be enough (check out IKEA’s office furniture section).
Set Clear Expectations
Your remote team’s productivity depends largely on what is expected from them. Remote workers are detached from the hustle and bustle of the office, this means that it is even more important that they’ve been provided with a clear set of guidelines on what is expected of them within their role with the company. Guidelines should include things like protection of customers data and use of portable devices as well as direction of what online platforms should be used to communicate with colleagues. There could be a dress code for when clients are video calling with both senior managers and clients.
Create a team environment for your Remote workers
George Bernard Shaw – “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”
When working together in an office, it is easy for co-workers to coordinate and adopt a team spirit. They can see and meet each other allowing them to keep track of how a project is going and help each other overcome obstacles. When team members are working from remote locations, you lose this proximity and sometimes workers may even be in different time zones. One way to help keep everyone up-to-date on a projects status and to help your team stay in contact is through a work-management platform. We have put together a collection of great project management platforms for you to choose from in an earlier post.
Use Online Platforms for Transparency
Work transparency will prevent managers from falling into the trap of micromanaging and remote workers from working overtime to prove they are in fact doing their job efficiently. Give team members clear directives for what is expected of them, online collaborative platforms such as Miro are effective for both brainstorming and managing workflow of your team. It eliminates confusion; team members can collaborate and brainstorm together. Consider also sharing your strategy on remote working structures and ask for feedback. For example, have staff head about and new collaborations tools that might be helpful. While Miro is just one platform for team collaboration, there are many others for you to choose from. These include: Asana, ProofHub, Wrike, Nimble, Zoho Projects, SwiftKanban
Address Mental Health Issues
Some team members will be struggling during these times and it’s important that managers and colleagues are sympathetic to this. Look out for mental health issues and develop a channel of communication where staff can communicate sensitive issues in a caring an empathetic way. Consider adjusting your company culture to introduce a discussion around issues such as for mental health and isolation. Consider further steps such as personal days off when staff are overwhelmed or access to a stress counseling service.