Is your remote team happy and productive? Have you checked in with them recently? These are very important questions to ask yourself every day.
Motivation and happiness is key for a productive day, specially in these trying times.
Our current world situation has dramatically shifted how we work, we all went abruptly from working in an office, face to face (most of the time at least) to working remotely. Even if it is the same city, we are all remote.
When working from the same office it is easier to check in, have small chat and quickly make decisions based on the ‘office vibe’, but that is no longer the case. How do we, as Founders/COOs/PMs deal with making sure our team is happy?
It goes way further than just having the right tools in place, it is about creating culture and a feeling of belonging. Here’s what we’ve learned and how, over the years we’ve managed to create a culture that extends beyond our office walls.
- Define expectations and ground rules/sops
Get started by defining the expectations of working remotely. Define hours where availability is expected, proper communication channels (both internal and client facing) and make available all processes and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the entire team. Take the guesswork out of how things work in your company and document everything, make it easily available. (Check out http://wikit.io, a tool we built exactly for this purpose).
- Onboarding is key
Make sure you onboard your new team members correctly. Explain how things work, who is who, where to find your SOPs and set expectations from day 1.
- Foster community via a platform
Communication platforms such as Slack not only provide a place to discuss work but also to engage with your team members. Your casual hallway and kitchen conversations are now channels on slack. Actively encourage conversation and different channels where not only work is discussed but also interests, news and even a bit of fun.
- Establish weekly fun activities
One of the drawbacks of going fully remote and digital is that we loose the human connection. Bridge that gap by creating weekly fun activities that your entire team can participate in. At Ideaware we do: weekly town halls (news, chat, bring your favorite drink), a weekly challenge/contest where you win a prize and an event called Homespace, where any team member can talk & teach about any subject they want. Conversations are great and team building is fostered.
- Share every single win
Publicly share every single win. From company news to a small win someone had. Share it, encourage your team to share good news and recognize achievement.
- Keep your team in the loop every single week
Being remote often feels like being out of touch with your team, specially leadership. Uncertain times also bring work related anxiety. Keep your team in the loop every week. Have a 30 minute call (we call them Town Halls at Ideaware, we get together every Friday at 5pm) and share what’s going on at the company. Good news, bad news, updates. Your team will appreciate staying in the loop and the transparency.
- Keep offering professional development opportunities
If possible, keep offering growth opportunities for your team. Your team works very hard for you and everyone wants to be rewarded for their effort with growth opportunities. Don’t take them off the table by being remote, in fact encourage it.
- Perks must go beyond the physical office space
Think about the perks you offer/offered while everyone was at the office. Some or most of them are related to the physical space. Think about ways you can bring new perks to your team that are more in line with our current reality. For example: did you offer food and snacks at the office kitchen? Get creative and send everyone their favorite snack on Fridays.
- Results matter, working hours do not
This is a tough one, because it is a huge mindset shift. When remote (honestly even at an office setting), sitting in a chair for 8 hours does not equal productivity. Hours don’t matter, results do. Expect your team to juggle home responsibilities while they work. Encourage results, let everyone figure out the best way they are most productive.
- Have less meetings
The first impulse as you go remote is to establish many meetings a day to “keep tabs on things”, I find meetings counter-productive. They break up your flow, you have to prepare for them, sit in them, then recover from them. Hours lost. Send a screencast instead, a slack message, a short email, most meetings can be avoided with a short, well written message. If you need them, there are also plenty of tools to get daily status updates on your team members.
- Help with home office spaces
If you are reducing your office space, no longer have an office or don’t plan to in the near future, divert your office budget to helping your team at home. At Ideaware we make sure everyone can request a desk, chair, new laptop, upgraded internet and anything they might need to get their best work done. Equipment and a comfortable ergonomic work station should not be taken for granted. Stay on top of it!
- Ask for feedback
The most important bit about having a successful remote team is asking for feedback. What can the company do better? How can you help? What struggles are you having? Learn, solve and adapt. This sends the right message and culture to your team. You will learn a lot and help your team be happy and focused.
A happy team is a focused team and a happy company
An essential component to a remote team is keeping everyone happy, connected and thus focused on the company & project goals.
Always keep in mind you should:
- Trust your team to do their best work
- Autonomy to decide how/when to get their best work done
- Outcomes over time tracking
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