New technologies and the COVID-19 crisis are pushing many industries to accelerate their digital transformation. The subject of remote working isn't new and around 4 to 5 million Americans already work from home (Smallbizgenius), and now that telecommuting, distance education and teleconferencing are spreading throughout the world, you must adapt to new ways of leading teams.
Today, remote working is an evident practice and 3 out of 5 American workers did and are doing part of their jobs from home during the coronavirus pandemic (Gallup), so leading remote teams is a skill that is certainly gaining momentum.
So, how is this affecting teams and leaders? In a few years, the digitization of the workforce will dominate the working environment and ensuring productivity and keeping motivation is the new challenge. The interaction between leaders and teams varies a lot in telecommuting, however, it’s not an obstacle for fluid communication. In fact, working at a distance with like-minded people and regular communication is as productive as face-to-face interactions, or even better.
We all have bad experiences with difficult teammates, so closeness is definitely not the main factor for productivity. The team building is. That's why you need to make sure that your team understands your needs and they have enough social abilities to get along.
Also, you’ll have to assess their education or skills for their jobs because you probably can't train them in-depth and their work will rely on your feedback. So choosing the right people is more important than physical proximity.
In any case, we will show you how to build your team and get the best of your teammates.
How to improve productivity in remote working
As you now know, physical proximity is not the main factor to make a teamwork and get results, good communication with your team and having the right fit for your business goals are relevant factors you can't forget.
- Having the right team is key
- Regular feedback and communication will make your telecommuting work
- Setting clear objectives will facilitate their work
With these tips, you’ll have more control over the team and work will flow easily. Even if it's easier to follow up when you’re in an office, delegating and establishing clear objectives will make the teamwork functional and effective. Understanding this, you’ll get your team working well, just take into account two main issues:
- Strategy and results. It is important that your team has the appropriate knowledge to carry out the necessary actions to achieve good results.
- People management. The psychological and social aspects of your business are also important, and you must understand your team’s needs. In fact, if you're in contact with your people, you'll have to take care of their feelings and be empathetic to understand and make your team grow.
So your job is primarily to find the right people to carry out the project and be the best leader you can be. As a leader, it’s essential to understand that you can't lose emotional contact with your team to keep motivation up and you should also help people, so it is necessary to follow-up even more with the people we work with.
- Follow-up. Although there is no direct contact as in an office, weekly communication is vital to keep the work going and correct any mistake or misunderstanding during the development of a project.
- More communication. The team needs to know what is happening and it is important to ensure that employees continue to feel part of the team. Moral support is necessary to minimize uncertainty.
- Managing emotions with the team. When teleworking, communication and contact are necessary to ensure that motivation doesn't drop. Managing emotions is the most important challenge for a leader, but if you keep in touch you can stabilize the situation and take advantage of the benefits of teleworking.
- Well-established goals and priorities. It is important not to lose focus and if you or someone in your team feel uncomfortable with remote working due to, for example, the distractions they find at home, you should offer your help setting a clear guide and priorities to carry out their tasks.
How to create the best work environment for your team?
Every human being needs security and positivity to develop their personal and professional life. Creating a good and stress-free environment is paramount in people’s management.
Sometimes this aspect can become the most complex part of your job as a leader, but with patience and a clear methodology, you can find solutions that will allow you to improve the work environment and increase the productivity of your team. You can start by implementing and taking into account the following issues:
- Trust: For your team to feel comfortable with you, there must be mutual trust. It is not only about having a good relationship, but it is important that you can talk and have enough confidence to deal with all kinds of topics to build trust in your relationships.
In fact, your management style will produce better results based on trust and not on control. A relationship of trust between equals means that control is not necessary for many processes. It is your team who will inform you of everything that happens and actions to take.
- Happiness: Have you heard of the Happiness Index? It is a survey that businesses send to their employees daily after working hours. In it, they ask in what emotional state the day started, how it ended and if the workday was enjoyable. Responses are set on a scale of 1 to 4, with 1 as “very bad” and 4 as “very good”. This way, you will always know how they feel and then, you can change your strategy to make them feel engaged with your business and brand.
- Productivity: An organized team is not enough to implement productivity. It’s more important to show your team how to do their work. To do this, I suggest you take advantage of communication tools such as:
Slack: it is a chat platform for daily communication with teammates.
Zoom: A video tool that improves the quality of remote meetings.
Skype: This is a good solution for those who need to hold meetings remotely.
Trello: It is a very popular tool to facilitate the organization of tasks.
GoogleDocs: It is an intuitive and effective collaborative work tool.
There are many other web tools to facilitate remote working, but you will have a good time checking these tools. Just make sure you are able to prioritize and organize yourself.
It is essential that you know the priority of each task and organizes your agenda accordingly. So in this case, you can discuss and prioritize the actions to take with all the team members and make decisions on a day-to-day basis, assuring that your team understands the workload and within what time frames.
Listen and take into account the opinion of everyone. Communication between teams (either top to bottom or bottom to top) has to be bidirectional and make your team feel that they are impacting the decision-making process and notice that they are part of the “family”.
… More practical tips to start remote working successfully!
There is no doubt that, at home, there are more distractions that affect team members. For this reason, you shouldn't hold meetings for more than 1.30 hours and it will help the meeting participants to stay focused in virtual meetings. Additionally, you can:
- Conferencing video calls. It is always better to include audio and image to deliver a message. Being able to see the person with whom you are speaking, may increase the closeness.
- Dedicate the first minutes to non-professional matters: Besides asking all the participants “how are you”? you can spend some time in small talks to break the ice and show genuine interest in them.
- Make sure everything is understood. If in a traditional meeting this is a crucial point, imagine how important it is in virtual meetings. People in charge of leading teams can leave comments and links to relevant information in the video call chat. If you make sure that they have understood everything, surely the work will flow much faster and you will not have to repeat it too many times in case there is an error.
- Create engagement. The goal of both marketing and management is to create commitments with your brand. This is the fundamental task of managers. In fact, having employees and leaders committed to making a better place to work is the main factor that leads to this engagement.
- Put the employee at the center. In modern management, the employee is at the center of your strategies and you should add value in every feedback to encourage them to perform better. It is the same idea of marketing adapted to management. If you place your team members at the center of your strategy, you will get to know them much better and give them customized attention depending on the characteristics and needs of each one of them.
- Employer branding. It’s the transmission of your brand values to your employees and they must feel they are an important piece of your business Because your reputation as an employer depends on it.
- Segment the target. As you know your customers in marketing, It is important to know your employees and offer them a personalized experience that adds value and impacts their behavior in a positive way.
- Set KPI. KPIs or Key Performance Indicators are fundamental to define the achievement of your team’s tasks and measure the effectiveness of your business strategies.
- Constantly update. Having an up-to-date team and leader will give a more attractive experience to everyone involved in the business and as a consequence, increase competitiveness and engagement.
It is likely that most team members know their job, but if they don't have a technical background for a specific task you can organize training courses and improve your team members’ knowledge. So you can, for example, establish workshops and training periodically to delve into certain topics that add value to your team. Not only from the technical point of view but also from the human side.
You could also experiment with one-on-one training since these are excellent learning methods, so you can obtain greater cooperation with your team while they will obtain the necessary knowledge to carry out their daily tasks.
In this way, you can promote the values of the company and make your team member happy to work with you; and also by involving the team in choosing the type of training you will encourage cooperation and cohesion.
Your team members are not as far as you think!
Making your team members feel you trust them, generates stability and allows them to focus, and if you have a lot of contacts and daily communication, the remote working experience will work for everyone.
We hope your employees will appreciate these tips and help you improve your skills as a leader as well. Prepare for the future, telecommuting is here to stay… And if you have any questions, contact us and we will teach you how to continue this process!