In the past two years, many companies turned from working in the office to working remotely. As it was such a large-scale and dramatic shift in the way of working, many companies faced significant difficulties implementing effective remote job processes.
As soon as management and employees felt comfortable with remote working, many found it preferable. Employees experienced a better work-life balance, bringing more energy and positivity to their work and teams. According to a Deloitte survey, businesses saw a remarkable increase in productivity. Of course, these results rely heavily on efficient teamwork whether that be collaborating on projects or working towards hitting department targets. As many businesses are transforming to partial or fully remote jobs, it is important to know what teamwork is, how to encourage teamwork remotely, and real-life examples of how to do just that.
What Is Teamwork?
When you wish to implement effective teamwork practices, it is important to have a clear vision of what you would like to achieve. In essence, teamwork is the cooperation of individuals across the workplace to reach common goals. Yet, the benefits of teamwork can often extend beyond only reaching targets. It can improve your employees’ morales, establish corporate climate and company culture, reduce employee tension or disagreements, boost creativity and innovation, and increase problem solving. In these ways, focusing on teamwork can be one of the most important business initiatives.
Whether working remotely, managers face a difficult feat when they wish to encourage teamwork. It involves fostering collaboration amongst all different kinds of personalities while emboldening unique strengths. Moreover, management has to be able to accomplish this without face-to-face interactions. Fortunately, below you will find some of the most fruitful strategies to build a thriving collaborative remote environment:
Imagine each of your employees working completely independently, isolated in their work environment, limited with their resources, and holding a vague idea of what everyone else on their team is currently doing to achieve the main goal. Of course, when it is laid out plainly like this, it is easy to see why communication is one of the key factors in building teamwork in remote jobs. Effective communication practices can transform that entire scenario; they have easy communication methods with their team and management, lighthearted and fun ways to chat with their peers during down-time, the ability to collaborate on projects effectively, and a clear vision of what everyone’s roles and tasks are including their own.
To bring this ideal situation to life, management must provide an organized, simple means of communication for their teams. The appropriate communication method should be tailored to meet the needs of the specific team. For instance, a development team may benefit from project management software and video conferencing tools while a sales team may enjoy a virtual office and chat software.
It is equally important to set etiquette rules with communication, as employees who feel pressured to respond to messages immediately or interact 24/7 may feel overwhelmed and pressured. By setting ground rules from the beginning, you can avoid this slippery slope.
Along the same lines, it is all too easy to micromanage in a remote working environment by over-scheduling team meetings or check-ins. You may also constantly monitor what your employees are working on or how long they have been working on a certain project. Whereas you may believe this provides direction, improves productivity, and reduces errors, both individuals and the greater team lose autonomy within that structure. In the long term, this can create tension, use conflict, decrease productivity, and discourage creativity and innovative ideas.
To boost teamwork with remote jobs, managers and employees must trust each other. To trust each other effectively, employees and teams must be held accountable for their work. Essentially, it must be understandable that if one employee does not complete their tasks on a consistent basis, the whole team suffers and no one achieves their goals. As such, developing a transparent goal system can work perfectly. You may wish to develop this alongside key members of the team, or with other managers who understand the team’s capabilities. Once the goals have been established, you can check in with the team on a regular basis in order to track and update progression towards the goal. Depending on your specific project, you may wish to do this at the beginning of every work week or the beginning of every day.
When you work in-office, employees have the opportunity to bond and catch up in different ways and on many occasions. It may be as simple as a coffee break, a lunch break, a quick chat in the hall, or sharing frustrations after a difficult client encounter. Yet, in the remote job environment, employees are isolated and rarely get the chance to interact with each other outside of discussing work. It may not occur to management that getting along outside of work actually fosters collaboration when at work. Thus, it may be advantageous for managers to provide down-time opportunities for their employees. You may suggest a company-unmoderated chat group, use virtual office software, set up company wide virtual events, organize video conferencing for coffee breaks, provide virtual games or contests when teams hit goals, or establish charity or volunteer initiatives. There are just as many ways to incorporate fun into remote working as there are in a physical office.
Since remote working is a new concept for many companies, it may be hard to base your specific remote team off of any particular model. However, it can be beneficial to know what you can do to promote
a thriving remote environment. You may find inspiration from any of the following examples:
● Providing teams with appropriate software for successful collaboration
● Setting clear chat and communication etiquette
● Checking in with teams regularly, but not obsessively
● Celebrating team successes by offering contests, games, prizes, and bonuses
● Acknowledging employees’ contributions over public chats
● Encouraging down-time opportunities
● Setting up fun initiatives such as volunteer projects
These are just a few of the most effective ways to build teamwork in working. Try a few out for yourself and see how they can make all the difference!