The number of people who work from home has increased by 140% since 2005. And with the pandemic forcing companies to embrace remote work on a larger scale than ever before, the rate of people working remotely is set to continue growing in the coming years as well.
5 Methods to Encourage Your Remote Teams
But while there are plenty of benefits that come with working from home, it can’t fully replicate an in-office work environment. At least not without taking deliberate steps that compensate for its shortcomings.
With that in mind, let’s explore five effective methods that can help you encourage your remote teams, keep them motivated, and nurture a workplace culture that embraces everyone, no matter where in the world they might reside.
One of the biggest drawbacks of working remotely is not being able to participate in office celebrations and develop the personal relationships that stretch out beyond work projects. Offbeat Slack group chats can help, but emojis and GIFs can only go so far before the limitations of the distance become apparent.
That’s why you should make an extra effort to celebrate important company milestones with everyone that’s part of the team, including remote workers.
According to the team at Hoppier, when you reach a big goal or wrap up a big project, one of the best things you could do is set up a virtual happy hour for your team.
While it may seem silly, these types of fun virtual get-togethers encourage people to unwind, embrace the entire team, and form stronger bonds that will be very beneficial during work.
Whether it’s having a few drinks, (virtually) sharing a pizza, or even playing some games, a virtual happy hour will help people maintain more positive relationships with one another and make sure that no one feels left out.
Make Time for Constructive Feedback
When the entire team works in an office, in-person communication is a given. Whether you need to clarify something with a colleague or address a mistake, being able to come into someone’s workspace and talk to them directly is simple and efficient.
But when working with remote team members, the process becomes more challenging. An email or even a Slack message can be very impersonal, so you need to find ways to connect with your employees and provide them with the feedback they will accept and embrace.
As a leader, it’s your job to help your team improve and grow in their capabilities. And if you can’t do it in person, you should at least try to do it over the screen, scheduling a virtual meeting where you can go through the situation, explain the circumstances, and offer feedback on how to best move forward.
You can be sure that your remote team members will appreciate you taking the time to talk to them instead of sending a message. And they will also be much more likely to listen to what you have to say, which is essential for the company’s success as well.
Finding time to share feedback or offer constructive criticism is one thing, but if you’re only reaching out to scold someone, that can make people avoid contact with you as much as possible.
To avoid that with remote team members, you should also make people feel valued and acknowledge when they do a good job and complete the tasks they’re responsible for.
Ideally, you should have regular calls with your team members to discuss their progress and congratulate them on their successes.
But when that’s not an option, sending an enthusiastic email or message can be a great starting point that shows you know they’re doing well and that you recognize their value as part of the company.
Encourage Work-Life Balance
Your remote employees are only as productive as they are happy. But unfortunately, remote work can sometimes blur the lines between life and work, resulting in some people working much longer than they need to.
While some companies may be happy about this, smart leaders know that they need to be rested, motivated, and happy employees if they want to keep them long-term. What’s more, overworked employees inevitably burn out, which can cause many issues in the future.
Therefore, you should communicate with each member of your remote team, asking them about their work habits and encouraging them to create reliable processes for separating work from free time.
If you want to also encourage a healthier lifestyle, you could even set up an office-wide fitness challenge, where you encourage people to get out and run, cycle, or do anything else together.
To up the stakes, you could even set up a prize if the entire team achieves a collaborative goal.
For instance, you could create a virtual happy hour fund that you would use to treat everyone to drinks and food if the team collectively ran a predetermined number of miles by a specific date.
Ask for Suggestions
Remote work has been around for a while, but it’s still evolving in the form that it is commonly seen today.
So, you shouldn’t expect your remote work management practices to be perfect immediately, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience working remotely yourself.
To make real improvements that your team will actually get behind, you should leverage your remote team’s experiences and knowledge on the subject.
Ask your remote team to share their thoughts on how remote work could be organized more effectively, what bottlenecks exist that prevent them from doing better work, and what you personally could change about your approach to better cater to their needs.
By merely being willing to listen to their feedback and trying to make the work of remote teams better, you will earn the trust of your entire team, which will make the job of leading the group of people towards a singular goal much easier.
And over time, as you make gradual improvement in the way your remote team works, your company will become a much more attractive place to work in.
And that will allow you to target elite talent from all over the world, which can be a massive difference-maker in what the company can achieve in the future.
Working with remote teams offers countless opportunities that can make a company better and more successful.
But for any of that to happen, leaders must know how to effectively manage remote workers and ensure that they feel valued.
The list of steps above is by no means complete. Still, it’s a good starting point that will help you build stronger relationships with your remote team while also improving productivity and overall company culture.