Large corporations and small companies alike have learned how to work from home. Dining room tables became makeshift offices, while families had no choice but to facilitate remote-learning while juggling their careers. Many have met these challenges head-on, helping their companies stay afloat and even thrive in the last twelve months. Whether you are patiently waiting to be able to safely bring your teams back to the office, or you shifted toward utilizing remote work strategies moving forward, one thing remains vital you need to not only lead your virtual teams, but you need to engage them. Here are six steps to successfully leading teams virtually and remotely.
Six Steps for Leading Virtual Teams Successfully
1) Remember That Remote Work is Not Yet Normal
Although it might feel like working remotely has been the norm for years or decades, for most it remains a relatively new concept. As people continue to adjust to the rhythm of virtual meetings and living room offices, it will be some time before all of this feels truly normal. Meanwhile, contact tracing and quarantines remain common. As a leader, cut yourself some slack. You are doing the best you can, and the same is true for your team.
While your productivity expectations may not change, we do not have to pretend virtual meetings are the same as conference meetings. It’s different. Children will walk into view of the camera. People will have internet issues. Sometimes, even a lawyer is going to have trouble turning off the cat filter.
While people have been working from home for a year, we are all still adjusting, and our circumstances are constantly evolving.
2) Trust Your Team - And Tell Them About It
Do you trust your team? If not, it will show. It may be difficult to relinquish the oversight you have in the office, but over time, if you have team members who are not fulfilling their responsibilities, it will show. If you have hired the right team, they are going to be productive and innovative regardless of the setting.
While it has been an adjustment, many companies are finding team members are thriving at their home offices. In fact, some are making virtual work a part of their permanent plan. Team members have higher quantities and better-quality time with their families. They are not burdened by grueling morning and evening commutes. Happier employees are often more innovative and zealous. Trust your team, and remind them about it often.
3) Be Patient and Encouraging
If you are leading a virtual team, it is vital to be patient and provide encouragement. You are out of your rhythm, which means things may fall through the cracks. You may not be able to just walk over to their desk. It is important to establish your new pattern of encouragement. Be proactive in asking how you can help. WIth so many changes coming at all of us each day, they may just be adapting to a new scenario. With your help they can not only get back on track, but thrive in the future, knowing they have support from their leadership.
4) Encourage and Facilitate Virtual Collaboration
If you trust your team, your role as a leader is less about making sure productivity is optimized and more about ensuring the best possible customer experience. Provide opportunities for your teams to collaborate in the virtual space. Make sure you facilitate employee engagement and are listening to the ideas they develop. You set up infomal office hours for your team to call into, or joint work sessions for people to collaborate. We share a few ideas on our podcasts, but also you can ask your team how they want to connect virtually, and set up a framework for their success.
5) Frequently Reinforce Your Mission and Values
The world changed. Everything changed. But your mission and values remain. You still want to provide the best customer experience and solve the problems that led you to create your company in the first place. Whether your office is in-person or remote, it is important to establish a rhythm of reinforcing your goals and purposes. This will help facilitate an innovative virtual culture and spark enthusiasm.
6) Find Ways to Connect Informally
For many, the office space was their community, so they are feeling the weight of not seeing their friends and work families.If it is safe, healthy, and geographically possible to do so, you and your team may be able to meet face-to-face one to one or as small groups. If remaining virtual, you can set up informal times to connect and chat. You can have an informal team lunch meeting. You can call a team member to chat for 5-10 minutes. You can ask each team member to organize one informal meeting per month and rotate each month. You want to be careful not to take time outside of the scheduled work day, given all of the other demands people are facing, but these informal connection points can help remind your team care about more than their productivity.
Has your company moved operations to virtual spaces? Are you struggling to lead remotely? You are absolutely not alone. Virtual teams can be a success story for your company. With the right strategy in place, you can grow and thrive while your teams are working remotely. TEAMES & CO has helped businesses achieve success by helping leaders manage teams remotely. We would be delighted to schedule a free consultation to see where your company can improve. Contact us for more information, and continue to visit our website for more articles and resources to help you grow.