I think we can all agree that the idea of working from home sounds like a dream. Let’s see, you get to wake up and not feel the dread of having to drive to an office space with complicated relationships and maybe an office bully, you only really have to change your pyjama top if you are going to be doing video calls, you don’t even have to leave your bed.
And with the times being what they are, there has been a huge shift in the way we do work, with a large percentage of the workforce now working from home. All your dreams have come true. Except that working from home, even if you are already an experienced remote employer or employee, isn’t always the dream.
Working from home, just like any other job, can get discouraging and frustrating at times. It’s lonely, quiet, isolated and as humans, we were not made to live in complete isolation. You might start missing the office bully and you’ll notice that building and maintaining relationships remotely with your work team is challenging and requires constant effort.
The studies tell it to us straight: it is more difficult to get virtual teams to bond, it’s harder for informal leaders to emerge and to create genuine dialogue. Plus, misunderstandings tend to crop up and easily escalate. Broken telephone anyone?
For team leaders, there’s a new array of issues around business protocols, decision-making, dealing with authority and negotiation styles while working remotely. Don’t pick me!
So, we thought we’d share some techniques which help to create and maintain strong social bonds among your team.
Establish Trust and Good Communication
From the get-go, and for obvious reasons, it is vital that you establish trust with your work team. It is equally important to have open lines of communication. Poor communication can lead to delays in reaching deadlines, can affect sales and growth and employee engagement. As a team leader, it is up to you to keep the communication lines strong and to converse frequently with each of your employees.
Some great ways to achieve this is;
-by setting up virtual coffee or lunch chats
-asking a ‘question of the week’
-encouraging group chats
-having company contests and exchanges
-doing company challenges
Provide Positive Feedback
What better way to boost morale and encourage productivity than by offering praise and words of affirmation to your remote team. It’s easy to overlook this even within the office environment so imagine doing it remotely. But it is a vital component of a healthy and successful business relationship and there’s nothing that boosts someone to go the extra mile than by making them feel appreciated and valued. So, do it.
Have clear Goals with Reasoning
It’s important to have goals and communicate them with your team. You want to keep people motivated and working towards these goals. Provide them with the reasoning behind your requests and requirements and they are more likely to fulfil them without complaint. Or, with less complaint anyway*wink*.
Working remotely, as with any job, will have its good and bad days. It’s important for you and your work team and leaders to encourage trust and open lines of communication as well as to continue to build a strong company culture. A few intentional and thoughtful gestures go a long way toward making everyone feel like a part of the team- no matter where they are.