In today’s work environment, odds are you have at least one team member who works remotely. Whether it is you, your boss, or a peer, remote teams face unique challenges and success relies heavily on everyone working together to build trust and be productive.
What is usually the culprit of dysfunctional remote teams? Communication.
I know. This is surprising to literally no one.
But what does this look like? What tactics work well? How do you get on the right path to success?
Here are five impactful tips to ensure remote teams work well together.
1. Establish Clear Goals and Success Metrics: While this is necessary to manage all teams, clear goals and metrics are essential for remote teams. Why? Remote team members need to know:
1. They are all working toward the same goal.
2. They are prioritizing their work correctly.
3. Their work matters.
4. They know what success looks like.
5. There is a clear path to accountability.
Most importantly, work with your team to establish your goals and metrics to get further commitment and buy-in.
2. Declare Team Performance Values and Norms: One of the hardest aspects of remote teams is varying work ethics, personalities, communication styles, and levels of engagement. Again, work with your team to discuss preferred working styles, communication preferences (email, phone, chat, text, video), barriers to trust, performance agreements (turnaround times, work formats, meeting lengths), and conflict resolution processes.
3. Implement a Strategic Communication Plan: The value of establishing a cadence of communication with your team cannot be overstated. Also, remember remote teams need higher engagement effort, not less. So, think beyond the traditional weekly staff meeting and one-on-ones. Perhaps it makes sense to make your weekly staff meeting a video call instead of voice only. Maybe it makes sense to do that with your one-on-ones too. A weekly email summarizing performance and priorities to the teams is helpful (top-down report). Depending on your team size and industry, a monthly or quarterly business review may make sense. Whatever you do – make sure it is:
And for everyone’s sanity, create agendas so team members know how to prepare and that their time is being well-used.
4. Leverage Video Calls: You’re comfortable meeting with your team in person, so why is being on camera so intimidating? Video calls are the next best thing to meeting with people in person and should be used as often as possible. However, you need to manage engagement. Call on each person for their feedback when appropriate so everyone feels heard and rotate hosts for recurring meetings to boost investment.
5. Foster Relationships: I know time is money and we’re all very busy and important. But take time to speak with your team like they are humans with lives… because… well, they are humans with lives. Ask about people’s weekends and holidays. Check-in on team members’ families and work/life harmony. Get silly and ask fun ice breaker questions or ask people to share photos from their lives outside of work. Anything to get to know each other better.
Improving communication tactics will absolutely make remote teams feel more connected, more trusting, and more productive. Start with one or all five. Whatever you feel will be best for your team. However, my final tip, as with any change, be transparent about why you’re implementing these new tactics. Transparency and communication go hand-in-hand.