Although controversy continues to swirl around remote working in the headlines today, there is no denying that this Covid-era trend seems to be with us to stay. Despite resistance from some employers, many professionals are expressing their excitement to see this evolution gaining a mighty pace.
When speaking to Forbes—for their report on projections that working from home is set to increase into 2023—Ladders CEO Marc Cenedella shared that “the change in working arrangements is impossible to overhype.” Continuing, he indicated that he believes this to be the largest societal change since the end of World War II.
According to research from GitLab, those working from home are happy to do so for numerous reasons, such as the increased potential for flexible scheduling, making cost savings, being able to ditch the commute, and reductions in anxiety and stress. These all sound like rewards worth pursuing, but that doesn't mean that the sudden transition faced by businesses around the world during the pandemic came without any challenges.
Crucially, taking team collaboration out of the office and into the virtual realm requires some careful strategy if it is to be a grand slam. Happily, as remote working has continued onward long after lockdown, we can now draw on data gathered over this time of high-speed transformation to make the work-from-home model more successful moving forward.
Curating Your Remote Work Leadership To Do List
In the journey toward ultimate remote working prosperity, leaders often struggle to keep their teams feeling connected—which, perhaps unsurprisingly, contributes to a drop off in engagement. So, if a remote working model makes the most sense for your business, how can you keep your team tight-knit and thriving? Here at HappyTeams we've been keeping a finger on the pulse of the issue and know that stellar remote leadership can be demonstrated in many ways, so read on for our top tips on how to make it a home run.
1. Prioritize Free-Flowing Communication
In exploring the make-or-break aspects of working from home, researchers discovered that 20% of remote employees expressed lacking a sense of belonging and sometimes feeling lonely. If connection is key, then we can consider communication to be the conduit for helping employees feel like part of the team and able to join the conversation.
However, in this new scenario, old-school approaches like email simply aren't going to cut it. It's time for a new mindset on communication because text-based messaging works well when part of a larger patchwork of interaction, but alone it can easily be misinterpreted. This makes frequent audio and video chats—both one-to-one and as a team—an essential tactic for keeping everyone on the same page.
2. Help Your Team Cultivate a Work-Life Balance
Most contemporary leaders understand how vital work-life balance is for maintaining happy, productive teams. However, an exploration into the challenges faced by remote workers conducted by Buffer revealed that 22% of employees surveyed were struggling to unplug after work.
When we consider that scheduling flexibility is one of the most popular draws for remote working lifestyles, it becomes clear that there is a careful balance to strike. Understandably, this requires cultivating new skill sets, and as employers pursuing leadership with integrity, there's plenty that we can do to support this.
Clear employee expectations—such as when teams should be available and at their screen—can be entirely compatible with flextime policies. On the other side of the same coin, some employees struggle to get into “work mode” in the first place. This creates a strong argument for recalibrating team guidelines and values, establishing guidance on how to set up a conducive at-home workspace and codes of conduct to help your team keep their work-life scales centred.
3. Be Bold About Strengthening Team Culture
Although not inhabiting the same space, it is so important to ensure employees feel embraced by company culture and part of all the key moments for your brand. The classic culture-strengthening go-tos such as team-building exercises can't be harnessed in a traditional way, so it's time to think outside the box. You may have the capacity to arrange periodic in-person team meetings or retreats. However, there are also creative ways to get around not being in the same room.
Fun traditions such as online gaming leagues, funny gif threads in your shared Slack account, or having birthday cakes delivered to team members can remind employees that they belong to something bigger and brighter than their daily task list. Simple practices such as checking in on everyone's personal life events and sharing anecdotes at the start of a group video meeting before wading into the work can help keep bonds strong too.
4. Use Great Collaboration Tools
We mentioned video conferencing and the popular collaboration platform Slack, but there is so much more within this avenue to explore. A new mode of working calls for a fresh approach, and countless startups have responded to this contemporary need by creating tools to make remote work run more smoothly. Think instant messaging tools, team collaboration software, and cloud-based storage platforms. With these resources, your whole team can have eyes on every aspect of the project at hand and share ideas seamlessly.
5. Guide and Celebrate Your Team
When grinding away remotely, it's easy to feel as if efforts go unseen. The salve to this is offering frequent feedback that focuses not only on improvement and targets, but also on every job well done. The last thing you need is for the most dependable members of your team to feel undervalued. So, make feedback honest, constructive, actionable, and celebratory to see productivity soar.
You can also increase the flow of feedback and encourage employee development by establishing a mentorship program. This will not only give cross-team communication a boost, but is also a handy way to strategically create connection between areas of your team or teams that are not yet collaborating organically.
6. Seek Out Epic Employee Feedback
As capable leaders, it can be easy to imagine that we intuitively know how employees feel and what they are thinking. However, an immense amount of opportunity is missed with this assumption. Here at HappyTeams, we are huge advocates of leadership without ego—when we recognize how much we don't yet know, we discover the opportunity to excel as never before!
In truth, the best way to discover how your remote working team is really doing is to ask them. They will feel seen and heard, and you will have the data at your fingertips required to take your business to the next level. This can be accomplished by maintaining a virtual “open door policy” so that team members can voice questions and concerns with confidence. You can also use a tool like HappyTeams, curated to allow you and your organization to keep track of employee engagement and happiness over time.
7. Be Willing to Evolve
Delivering leadership with heart means being ready to evolve with and for your team so that you can all level up together. With the right approach, remote-working employees can be your brand's greatest assets and loudest advocates. The magic happens when you bring them along for the journey and get their feedback on every intrepid new step taken.
As we move further into the era of remote working, mastering the art of virtual connection is going to be vital. Thanks to the help of our team of truly exceptional Organisational Psychologists, HappyTeams will help you take the guesswork out of this transition. If you'd like to get started with HappyTeams—which can be integrated into your Slack, MS Teams, or Email with a single click—you can do so for free today.