Remote employees come with their own set of challenges - by understanding their issues and resolving them, you’ll not only develop empathy but also lead by example.
As most of our teams will be new to working from home and the situation we find ourselves in is unfamiliar and unsettling, it’s even more important to stay connected. Numerous remote work problems stem from poor communication. It’s easy to let the communication part take a back seat, but it will hamper your productivity and team cohesion in the long run. Even if you trust your team members, you need to communicate with them frequently. Honest, friendly, and open communication is vital to every healthy remote work culture.
Here are some useful communication tips -
- Treat remote people as local. Let them access you. Your remote team won’t be engaging with you physically— they aren’t having coffee or going on office lunches with you - so you need to do what it takes to bridge the communication gap. Respond to them as quickly as you can. Share your feedback and seek advice from them.
- Talk to your people – have 121 and team discussions about how to make remote working effective for all of you.
- Stay in touch by more than just email – regular phone calls, Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp groups etc – think about formal and informal contacts and work out the best method for each person and your team as a whole.
- Plan team meetings to ensure regular contact between all of you. Virtual coffee breaks or lunch catch-ups could become a daily or weekly way to stay connected – socially as well as on work topics.
- Remember that even on a video call, your team doesn’t have the same verbal and visual clues like body language and intonation to interpret your tone, so to ensure a happy team make sure you can’t be misunderstood as being terse or angry when you don’t intend to be. This is especially the case when it comes to email and messaging, and it can be a good idea to over-communicate in order to avoid this and use emojis to lighten the tone where necessary.
Since remote employees don’t get a chance to interact with you or other colleagues as much as they would normally, they often lack the regular office interaction. You need to help them stay aligned with the organisation’s purpose and our culture, even when they are working at home.
Think about how you keep your team updated on company performance and results, key information and updates and team progress and performance. Focusing here will help you maintain team cohesion and connection as well as keeping them motivated and informed.
Your approach to remote team management can also really help to bring a company culture to life – areas like empowerment, collaboration and trust. Spend some time reflecting on how you can demonstrate leadership in these areas by the way you lead your team remotely.