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10 Remote Work Tips to Help You
Lead and Connect Your Team

The workplace continues to change fundamentally, and with that, so must our managerial styles.  With the shift to remote and hybrid work, many teams, and leaders in general, are left to fend for themselves while still producing quality work and increasing productivity.  The truth of the matter is though, if you continue to do what you've always done, you will continue to yield the same results.

How can we expect our employees to adapt to changes if leadership teams across the globe are not acknowledging these changes and adjusting their business models accordingly?  The short answer is that we can't.  But how do we provide quality leadership and management, when the workplace is changing for us as well?  We are also trying to navigate unfamiliar territory.  

We've provided 10 tips to help you better lead and connect your dispersed workforce, whether employees are working remotely, taking a hybrid approach, are getting back on the road and traveling for meetings and events, are working on the front lines and do not have the privilege of sitting at their computer all day.  

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Know your team; lead by example

The best way to support and lead a team is to first understand them. What drives them?  What is important to them? What do they need from you? What do they need from their teammates?

There are several activities you and your team can do, even from behind computer screens, to determine what is going to ultimately lead you to success.  Here are some tips to better understand and lead your team: 

  • Ask your team what their professional values are - We all have our own personal values, family, religion, etc., but something we don't talk about as much is our professional values.  Have your team create a list of professional values to better understand what they look for in a team, a manager, and a company.  What makes them proud and how do they measure success?
  • Have your team compile a list of attributes - What does your team want to be known for?  If you were to ask other departments within your organization, what would your team want them to say?  Are dependable and reliable at the top of their list? Or maybe they want to be seen as the "dream team" with the highest productivity in the business.  
  • Lead by example - Consistency is the key to success and when employees see consistent efforts from their leadership, they typically hold themselves to the same standard. Set expectations and live up to those expectations yourself.  Determine your professional values and attributes and don't waiver from them.  Set your goals and refer back to them often. A team is only as strong as their leader. 

Recognize that your team’s perspective has changed, not just their needs

In recent years, we've redirected our thinking in terms of work/life balance as a society.  As little as five years ago even, work was at the forefront of our minds and, for many, came ahead of their personal life.  At this time, health may not have even been in the picture.  We've now come to realize through recent events the importance of this work/life/health balance. 

Employees have changed their ways of thinking around how work, play, and ultimately, health, coexist in our everyday lives.  When one of these areas does not get as much attention, your whole foundation deteriorates with it.  The truth is, we NEED this balance to keep the machine running. 

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Accept that remote work and in-person work are fundamentally different

A good leader needs to take empathy over what and how things have changed for their team. Though many employees are thriving in remote and hybrid workplaces, several find it more difficult.  Whether the isolation from their team makes them lonely or they feel they aren't as productive, many employees are fighting this workplace battle every day.  

Are your employees now working from home where they are taking care of children or elderly parents? Has anyone on your team recently become ill or injured and has constant appointments they need to attend throughout the workday?  All of these situations, and so many more, can have a detrimental effect on company and team morale.  We need to find ways to adapt to our teams' ever-changing wants and needs.


Over-communicate; intentionally and thoughtfully

Employee to employee communication

The average office worker receives 121 email messages per day and 35% are left unread.  This is not to say that email communication is dead, but exactly the opposite.  Email communications are thriving and are an integral part of an employee's work day.  This does however mean important email communications must be clear and concise.  With so many other tasks happening all at once, employees need to know where to focus their attention.  Whether this is setting up rules with your team to identify "must read" emails or utilizing a third party system to get messages across, your team must be able to connect with each other as well as management and other departments easily. 

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Employee to company communications

What are the best ways to connect your employees to the business?

  • Slow down - Before jumping to hit that send button, first determine if this needs to be an email or if you are able to handle things on your own.  Wait 15-20 minutes and reevaluate: "If this is the one message my team sees today, is this what I want them to know?"
  • Make sure your message is worthy - By slowing down and confirming this is in fact information your team needs to see, it will make your messages so much more impactful.  When your team receives an email/message from you, they should feel confident that it is an important message and one you didn't want them to miss.

 

  • Diversify your communication channel - Ensure your team is all on the same page and receiving the same messages.  This often looks like members repeating tasks back to the original speaker verbally as well as following up with email communications or some sort of project management tool.
  • Prioritize your communication - Make communication a priority within your team.  Be available and responsive.  With the increase in remote work, communicating is not as easy as walking down the hall or peeking your head above your cubicles.  Use alerts and notifications to stay in the know of when you are needed.
  • Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. - Do not waiver on the messages you believe are the most important because at some point, someone will repeat your own words back to you, confirming the message was received.

Yes, you do have time for team bonding

Team bonding does not always have to take an entire day and doesn't have to break the bank.  Many organizations think of team bonding as an annual team building day.  Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, there are so many other ways to connect your team on a smaller scale. 

Bonding and team-building exercises can be done both in-person and remotely.  With the multitude of video conferencing services, teams can connect on a daily basis.  So why not incorporate these services into your routine?  Set up a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly cadence for your team to get together, chat, and spend an hour taking a break from due dates and bottom lines.  

Take this opportunity to offer kudos and let your teammates do the same for each other.  Recognition is often very important to employees and this is a great way for your team to bond and build relationships.  Then spend a few more minutes doing a fun activity to bring the team closer together.  The most important part of these meetings though, is to NEVER cancel.  Company culture and employee engagement improve when teams are able to build relationships within their company. 

Remote bonding examples

  • Two truths and a lie work edition - Have your team tell two truths and a lie about their first job, their current job, and where they want to be in 10 years
  • Give each team member the opportunity to ask each other a question they've always wanted to know about them? (Ex. Where did you go to college?  How did you develop your great public speaking skills?)
  • Have each employee take a video of their workspace and have them walk you through what they have at their desk, on their table, etc.  Some people may have family photos or signs with fun sayings on them that can easily be relatable and used to strike up conversations. 
  • Peanut butter jelly time - This popular activity is something your team can do even while video conferencing.  Have one person close their eyes and make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while another person explains to them what steps to take.

If you want to know, ask

Don't assume anything.  The best way to cater to your employees and provide what they really want and need is to ask them what they want and need. In as little as 5-10 years ago, employees want perks like snacks in the breakroom and a putting green outside the conference room, but with less people working in the office now, this is no longer the case. 

Create an employee survey and ask the questions you want answers for.  Ask your employees what you're doing well in terms of company culture and how you can improve.  Ask your employees what they ultimately want to see and how they want to view your company culture.  When you ask these types of questions, employees are able to provide honest feedback that is insightful and can be used to implement new initiatives. 

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Recognize small successes, as well as big wins

Celebrate anything worth celebrating.  Be intentional and authentic, but celebrate the big and the small wins.  Teams connect so much better when they are given the opportunity to acknowledge the team's milestones, victories, sales, etc. 

There's no one way to celebrate either.  Have your team brainstorm together how they want to see their wins highlighted.  In case you get stuck or need a starter idea, here are a few examples that can help. 

  • Team meetings - Give employees the chance to offer kudos to other team members during your weekly scheduled status calls.
  • Peer-to-peer digital recognition - Use the most recent technology to your advantage and provide a platform where employees can comment and react to other teammates' accomplishments.
  • Quarterly awards - Create business value awards and highlight individuals every quarter.  Nominate deserving employees who have worked hard this quarter and prove to be living out your company's mission statement.  Allow the entire company to vote and select the winner based on examples of each nominee's achievements for the quarter.
  • Business wins videos - Record the celebrating employee and their manager doing a quick interview about their accomplishment, what went into it, and ultimately, how it will affect the business. 

Turn your cameras on & listen, do not multi-task

Which of these two images represents your team or company?  When employees are not able to communicate face to face, meetings are much more meaningless and interactive.  Relationships are more apt to form when employees are able to see reactions, gestures, and demeanors of those they are talking with.  Additionally, people will be far less likely to multi-task during meetings, increasing productivity and decreasing repetition of topics and follow-up questions on answers that have already been given. 

This can oftentimes feel like a daunting task for those working remotely, but it helps in so many ways. When your camera is on, most likely you will not be watching tv or scrolling through your phone.  This will ultimately allow you to focus better increasing productivity and decreasing wasted time repeating things and asking questions.  This can also help employees who are struggling with remote work because they cannot get out of their pajamas.  If their camera is on, more than likely, employees will be better groomed and dressed than if they were hiding behind the screen, which can have a huge impact on self-esteem. 

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Provide an Employee Experience Platform 

A digital solution can be used to implement all of the tips listed above.  From more streamlined communications to employee interaction, digital employee experiences have been improving the quality of work for so many for years.  

Topics frequently seen, and used, on these types of platforms include news articles and company alerts, conversation streams and messaging features, as well as survey and feedback capabilities.  A digital solution can host all of your business applications in one central location, aiding employees throughout their workdays, and ultimately, their careers,

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See how Akumina can help you connect and lead your team