No matter which department you work in, one thing is clear: the workplace is changing. Across the globe, workers are abandoning the office in favor of their home working environment. In fact, 31% of employers now allow employees to work remotely.
It’s not hard to see why; remote work brings many benefits. With fewer people working on-premises, you can invest in a cheaper office. What’s more, employees no longer need to commute to the office, so you’re not limited by location. You can unlock a global pool of talent.
However, building remote teams is a learning curve. If you’re struggling to adapt to this new form of working, don’t panic. In this article, we’ll share some tips to help you build a remote team that thrives.
What is remote team building?
Remote team building is when you create a team of employees who work outside the office environment. Fifteen years ago, this concept would’ve seemed impossible. But with today’s technology, remote work has become increasingly more viable.
Video conferencing software, for instance, allows you to connect and meet with remote employees. Thanks to the cloud, you can collaborate on documents, share comments, and maintain teamwork. Other technologies, such as instant file share and time-tracking software, have been equally useful.
We’re currently in the midst of a period known as the ‘The Great Resignation.’ People are abandoning their roles in record numbers in search of new opportunities. To hold onto your staff, you need to listen to what they’re saying.
Remote work might represent a solution. As many as 52% of workers say they’d take a pay cut of 5% or more to have a flexible working location. By and large, employees want to work remotely.
Must-Know Tips for Building Remote Teams That Thrive
There are many benefits to building remote teams, but without the right approach, you’re not guaranteed success. With that in mind, here are eight remote working tips to help you build successful remote teams.
1. Be aware of time zones
As mentioned, access to global talent is one of the best aspects of remote work. That said, the further you spread your net, the more difficult communication becomes.
Let’s imagine that you are a California-based company, and you hire someone who lives in the UK. This means that your new employee is eight hours ahead of you. They might not be around to answer emails or join meetings.
The same applies if you’re outsourcing work to another company. For example, you might have been debating the benefits of a BPO vs call centre and gone for a BPO contact center. If the outsourced company is working overseas, you will still need to overcome time zone issues.
But what’s the solution? Make sure that you remind employees across your organization about the time differences. Get into the habit of picking times for meetings that coordinate with all employees. Failing that, utilize conferencing software to record meetings and share them with non-attendees.
Additionally, you could consider implementing a virtual queue system for handling requests or questions from remote employees, ensuring that everyone gets a fair chance to have their concerns addressed.
Secondly, it’s useful to invest in tools that can improve collaboration. Cloud-based team management software, for example, allows employees to drop in and out. They can leave comments and track the progress of team members.
2. Clarify expectations
There’s a fine line between managing and micro-managing. On one hand, it’s important you place trust in your employees. Virtual teams need to know that you have faith in them to work productively. On the other hand, some oversight is important. You need confidence that employees are on track to meet their goals.
To achieve a balance between the two, you need to clarify expectations on day one. Start by setting clear objectives for each team member. Establish a routine for checking in with the employee and monitoring progress.
Secondly, make a decision about flexibility. Will you allow employees to choose their own routines, or will they stick to a set schedule? If you choose the former, you should agree on specific times when members should be available.
3. Allow time to socialize
One of the greatest dangers of remote work is that employees will feel isolated. This is especially the case if they were previously used to working in the office. As remote teammates don’t know each other as well, collaboration can suffer. If isolation goes unaddressed, teammates can get depressed, and productivity takes a dive.
This was underlined in a recent study by MMBI; as many as 73% of executives reported that workers were feeling isolated.
The solution, thankfully, is simple: allow teammates the space to socialize so that they feel less isolated and more connected as a team.
Why not kickstart a conversation between teammates by creating virtual ‘breakout rooms’? There are virtual spaces that employees can join to chat during their lunch breaks.
You could also run virtual activities on video chat to get team members to socialize. Some examples are listed below:
- Have teammates share a drink together.
- Office tours; give an insight into the working environments of team members.
- A games night; employees can play card games or video games together.
- Icebreakers and team-building activities.
4. Offer opportunities
Research shows that 42% of workers have concerns about how remote work will impact their career progression. Too often, remote employees feel that their contributions are being overlooked in favor of in-office staff. And as employers are learning to their cost, lack of opportunities equals resignations.
When building remote teams, make sure to offer clear opportunities for your remote employees. Offering a framework of progression will give remote employees career goals to work towards.
This starts by having a one-to-one call with different team members. Ask them about their career aspirations, and explain how your organization will help them meet those goals. For example, you might offer career shadowing opportunities or leadership courses.
Elsewhere, showing a little gratitude can go a long way to boosting employee morale. Why not recognize the highest-performing team members? This could take the form of posts in the group chat or even offering prizes.
5. Seek Feedback
Whether you’re working in-office or remotely, one thing is certain: feedback is essential. Team leaders need to know that their voices are heard. Feedback might sometimes mean listening to compliments and approval; however, leadership should also not shy away from constructive criticism.
Of course, simply listening to feedback isn’t enough. You also need to demonstrate that you are putting feedback into action. For example, let’s imagine that employees are complaining about a lack of one-to-one communication. In response, you could schedule a private meeting with each team member once a week.
Sometimes, though, employees are reluctant to give feedback out of fear of upsetting leadership. To make the process easier, take the following steps.
- Ensure that all feedback is kept anonymous.
- Conduct regular meetings where you explain how feedback is being put into action.
- Make feedback forms simple and easy to submit.
By taking feedback on board, you not only improve the experience of remote working but also boost employee morale and productivity. Additionally, utilizing web analytics tools can provide valuable insights into the performance of your remote teams, helping you make data-driven decisions to enhance their effectiveness.
In addition to actively seeking feedback from your team, it’s equally important to provide constructive feedback to help employees improve their performance. Consider implementing tools like sales call recording to gain insights into customer interactions and enhance your team’s sales strategies.
6. Equip with the best tech
We’ve already mentioned some of the best remote working technology to provide to teams. Tools like conferencing and team management software are absolutely essential.
It’s also important, though, to consider tools that are unique to the roles of your staff. If you’re running a customer support team, for example, you might invest in an AI contact centre. This provides real-time assistance to agents and solves customer queries more quickly. A team of graphic designers, on the other hand, might need premium access to stock photos.
Ultimately, the better you equip your teams, the better the work they’ll produce.
7. Rethink recruitment
Not all employees are suited to remote work. Some simply are less equipped. It might be that they don’t have the discipline or tech skills to work effectively. Or, they might lack the internet connection to facilitate smooth working.
Whatever the reason, when bringing on new employees, it’s worth considering their ability to work remotely. A candidate might have a gleaming CV with years of experience, but this won’t be helpful to you if they’ve only worked in the office and don’t have the relevant experience.
However, this isn’t a reason to reject a candidate, instead you need to make sure you’re effectively onboarding remote employees to ensure that they adapt to the remote work environment seamlessly and contribute effectively to your team’s success.
8. Build a remote culture
There’s a reason that company culture is a buzzword for so many. A massive 90% of workers who rate their work culture as poor have thought about quitting. That said, building the perfect culture is tricky; it should embody your organization’s approach. What’s more, culture should exist from the top to the bottom of your business.
Increasing employee motivation is an important aspect of building successful remote teams and implementing a positive remote culture is a good way to achieve this.
A remote culture means that remote work is second nature throughout your organization. Communication between virtual teams is smooth, and team members feel a sense of belonging. But how do you build a remote culture?
Follow the steps listed above; each of these tips will contribute to your company culture. You should recognize that a remote culture won’t come overnight. It will require commitment and a clear strategy. And although things won’t always go to plan, you just need to adapt your approach accordingly to handle any curve balls thrown your way.
Rethink your remote work strategy
Transitioning to remote work requires thought and planning. You need to forget what worked before and adopt a new mindset, grappling with issues like time zones and internet blackouts. That said, by following the tips outlined above, you can get the best possible start when building remote teams.
Set clear expectations, and make sure that all team members are on the same page. Rethink your recruitment process to get the best remote talent, and above all, make sure that every step you take contributes to a remote culture.
It takes commitment, but with enough time, you can build a remote team that thrives.