Remote teams aren’t a new concept, but they’re becoming bigger and better than ever.
With everything that’s happened over the past two years, more and more agencies and their team leaders are making the permanent switch to remote working teams. They’ve been proven to make operations more efficient and their employees’ lives easier.
In fact, we here at GoWP are huge fans of remote working, with team members in over ten different countries!
There are enormous benefits that come from having a remote team, including:
- Access to great minds from all across the globe
- Working across multiple time zones for more client engagement
- Cost-saving measures associated with office spaces
- Environmental friendliness due to fewer commuters
And those are just to name a few!
But it’s not all sunshine and roses. Chances are, you’ve come across a few bumps in your transition to a fully or partially remote team. Trust us when we say that you’re not alone.
Even if you were exploring the idea way before it became “cool”, you’re probably nodding your head in agreement, or even wincing at some of your team’s current snags.
Common issues that remote teams are facing
There are countless reasons that remote working, while extremely positive, can go sideways. These can be divided into team and individual issues.
Team issues can range anywhere from:
- Mismatched schedules
- Lack of familiarity, especially among the new hires (By now, some of your newest hires have maybe never even seen the inside of your office space)
Individual issues can be more complex and completely different among team members. (If the image above resonates with you or your team, you know what can be one of the biggest, and cutest, challenges of remote working.)
And if you’ve worked remotely for a while, you understand that isolation can be a big factor that leads towards burnout. Removing the office environment takes away a social element of work to keep brains producing their best output.
All of these issues, and more, can contribute to stress or a lack of team identity in remote working situations. As a team manager, it’s extremely frustrating to see not only your productivity levels down, but also your team members discouraged, unfocused, and out of sync.
Never fear, because we’re here to tell you about the “i”s in “team”!
The four “i”s in “team”
“But wait,” you yell, “there’s no ‘i’ in ‘team’!”
And you’re right. Well, partially right.
Just like your old sports coach said, players must work together to produce great results. With remote working, however, there are four crucial “i”s that can give you and your team a leg-up.
These “i”s can make all the difference between creating a remote team that works well together or that is completely disconnected among its members.
Let’s take a look at the “i”s that make up a great remote team.
Remember the first day at your current job, or maybe at your first job, and how nervous you felt. Maybe you knew one team member or two, but other than that, it was probably a little like finding your seat in the high school cafeteria.
Now, put yourself in the shoes of your newest team members, but take away the opportunity you had to make easy connections with the people sitting next to you in the office.
Pretty tough to build a familiar, functional team, right?
Take a good look at the ways that you’re integrating the newest members of your team into your current group. This is even easier, the more you know about them! Maybe through conversation, you find out that they’re big cinema buffs, and you know that one of your veteran team members is, too.
Anything that you can use to get people talking and feeling included will help create a sense of belonging, even without the breakout rooms.
One of the best things to come out of the increased use of remote working is the number of resources and ideas that have been developed to make it easier!
If you feel like your current communication or collaboration is getting a bit stale, why not switch it up?
Whether it’s creating exciting challenges for your team or exploring a more effective software solution, the digital world is your oyster.
When you’ve fully integrated your newest team members, make sure that everyone continues to feel connected and respected!
Keep members communicating clearly on assignments, even if it feels a little bit excessive.
And don’t be afraid to have a little fun! Set up channels on Slack for non-work topics, or use networking software such as Zoho Connect to create lasting and effective conversation.
In addition, there are countless virtual team building activities to get your team laughing and talking (understanding that some members might have outside commitments or time zone differences that could keep them from attending).
In this case, the “I” is actually important. While managing your team, you also have to take a good look at yourself.
Working remotely is great, but there are days when it’s just plain difficult, for whatever reason. We know that. You know that. Let your team members know that you are all in the same boat.
Ask yourself about any ways that you could be working on your leadership style, or any techniques that might not be helping with communication or togetherness among your team members! The change can begin with us.
Empathy is a crucial part of leading your remote team — it can be the distinction between a great work environment and a toxic one. Focus on meta-goals and getting assignments done versus literal time spent at the screen. As always, remember to show your team the same understanding you’d want for them to show you.
Moving forward, staying together
You might be at a point where you’re debating whether to go fully remote or to keep some team members at your office space. We salute you and your efforts, and we know that you’re going to create the ideal conditions for your team!
There are so many contributing factors, many of which are unique to your agency’s needs and how well you are able to continue creating a healthy remote team dynamic.
At the end of the day, what will determine your remote team’s success is what you, the team leader, put into it. Caring genuinely about all of your members, no matter what the distance, goes a long way towards building as a unit.
If you can develop a climate that brings your remote office together and makes each member feel connected and valued, you’ll definitely see a difference in collaboration and quality.
With a few simple switches, honest effort, and your already-stellar members, you’ve got everything you need to reach your team’s full potential!
For more useful tips, check out this Forbes article by Brent Gleeson that we loved about remote team leadership. You might also like this awesome GoWP webinar panel discussion about mental health and remote work with the crew over at WP&UP.
And if you want to brainstorm and get feedback on some of the ideas that businesses just like yours have used to optimize their own remote teams, head on over to our GoWP Digital Agency Owners Facebook group!