In just a few short months, remote, dispersed teams have become the new normal for businesses of all sizes. Regardless of a company’s stance on remote work in a pre-COVID world, new policies had to be written and put in place quickly to keep business running as close to usual as possible. But the transition to a dispersed workforce requires much more than policy change. From finding the right tools to help teams stay connected to tips for managing virtual employees, it takes time and focus to build a strong remote infrastructure.
For business leaders, it’s important to strike the balance between maintaining productivity and keeping employee morale high. Employees who are not used to working remotely may feel isolated, which can in turn have a negative impact on their ability to perform and overall mental health. The good news is there are key tactics leaders can implement to keep spirits high.
- Focus on Non-scheduled Communication
As many companies shift to online meetings and virtual check ins, one thing that is noticeably lacking is the conversations that organically happen in a shared work Maintaining this level of informal—but vital—communication is very difficult for a dispersed team.
As managers, it’s important to be mindful of the value of random check-ins and relationship building among remote team members. Finding tools that can accommodate virtual office hours or going a step further and adding shorter, more frequent and casual conversations to the calendar can go a long way.
- Don’t be Afraid of the Touchy Subjects
We’re living in unprecedented times. It’s only natural that thoughts and feelings about our new normal cross over from our personal to professional lives. It’s slightly unreasonable to think employees can simply compartmentalize these stressors and frustrations. Instead of avoiding these topics, try approach them tactfully and introduce them into team check ins. Give everyone a few minutes to decompress and then jump in to cover business at hand. Just be mindful about any topics related to politics, as these conversations may venture into touchy territory with company policies.
- A Little Patience Goes a Long Way
Screaming kids, barking dogs, dropped internet connections — the list goes on. Working from home presents a new set of challenges for everyone. A little flexibility with schedules and soliciting input from your teams around meeting times can help minimize interruptions. Keeping your team’s spirits high isn’t just about going with the flow of unexpected business interruptions. Aim to keep the virtual office door open for your employees and work to identify ways to improve operations outside of a shared physical environment.
- Praise is Powerful
It’s tough to find a substitute for shared praise in the workplace. Remote work makes side conversations and “thank yous” impossible, so it’s important to find other ways to express gratitude. Everyone knows praise isn’t a volume game, but it’s essential focus on recognizing employees who have gone above and beyond during relatively trying times. Don’t be afraid to call someone out for their great work or effort. A little thanks can go a long way.
Keep an eye on the VirBELA blog as we continue our series on best practices for managing remote teams!