Do you have remote workers on your team? There is a growing amount of research that reveals the benefits of developing a remote team, including increased creativity and innovation. But with any team, there are also potential challenges that can arise. If your team has one or more remote workers, it is important to have best practices in place to set your remote team up for success.
I talked with Emily Moyer (Head of Brand and Content) from Remote Year. Their programs help individuals work from around the world. They also help companies manage remote teams. Remote Year has first-hand experience with location independence, as their team works remotely.
We discuss the following five tips for organizations to help remote employees and teams succeed.
1. Choose the right people.
When hiring a remote individual or choosing a current employee to work remotely, make sure it is a good fit for that person. A good to a great employee can improve performance while working remotely. But an employee who is already struggling to meet goals will likely continue to do so on a remote team with the lack of on-site supervision.
2. Set clear expectations.
It is important to ensure you and the employee have the same expectations before the individual starts working remotely. Be sure to provide clarity around goals, hours, communication, etc. Keep written documentation of key expectations and performance goals, and review them together every 6-12 months.
3. Communicate, communicate, communicate!
Overcommunication at the beginning of a remote work relationship will help the employee settle in as a vital part of the team and will help build trust. Implement an all-or-nothing rule for meetings – if more than one person is not on-site/in the room, have everyone use video chat or the phone for the meeting. This prevents remote workers from feeling left out or missing an opportunity from the inevitable side conversations that may happen when in the same room. And be sure to create an agenda and email it to everyone attending the meeting beforehand, so they know what to prepare for.
In addition, allow team members time to get comfortable with video chat and conference calls – it may take some more time than others. For example, if someone is from a culture in which “speaking up” in a meeting with superiors present is not the norm, that person may take even longer to start contributing in a virtual meeting. If you are leading the meeting, take note of those who are not talking. Have a private conversation with them afterward to find out how you can help create space for them to communicate in the next meeting.
4. Be consistent with technology.
Determine which technology and systems will be used to stay in communication and on top of projects. Once you have chosen the tools, be consistent! Make it mandatory that everyone on the team needs to use them, from entry-level to senior-level staff. Tools that can be helpful for remote teams include Zoom, Slack, Google Docs, Salesforce, and Dropbox, to name some.
5. Build a healthy team and organizational culture.
Be creative about ways to build a healthy, successful remote team. For example, celebrate birthdays with virtual parties. In addition to developing ways to make everyone feel a part of the organization’s mission from afar, make a point to bring everyone together in person at least one to two times a year. Having time in person will help build relationships and energize your team toward their goals.
These are essential practices for remote teams, but remember that each individual is unique, and emphasizing perspective-taking on everyone’s part will be the key to success. We highly recommend having your remote team take the Cultural Values Profile* – a research-based inventory that will help individuals understand one’s personal orientation on ten cultural value dimensions. The inventory and debrief helps guide teams on how to work better together. Contact us if you are interested in learning more about the inventory.
What best practices for remote teams have worked well for you? Leave them in a comment below.
*The Cultural Values Profile is a product that was developed by the Cultural Intelligence Center.