Remote working has become a global norm since the pandemic. Managing remote teams and getting the best out of them requires a completely different management style, and it’s something enterprises are still trying to perfect.
Working remotely was a new experience for most people. It was the opposite of what people were used to – the routine of commuting to the office, working fixed hours, meeting peers in person, and so on. Remote working did not just disrupt this routine; it forced each person to establish a work environment that would be conducive to productivity, all by themselves.
Over time, however, businesses have realized one key fact – just as a company plans the structure, culture, and processes for teams that work from the office, they need to actively provide a similar design for teams that work remotely as well. This requires a lot of planning and may require putting in place all new business processes.
Fortunately, you can learn from companies that have managed to create a high-functioning virtual office. We have curated a list of 5 remote team habits that highly successful remote teams use:
5 Habits That Make Remote Teams Highly Successful
1. Encourage transparency and sharing among peers
When people work together in close proximities in an office, they swap stories and share personal experiences. While this may seem trivial and something unrelated to work, it actually helps in building trust and creates a strong bond of camaraderie among peers in remote teams. This, in turn, impacts workplace productivity.
Creating an environment of openness and sharing can be a challenge when every member of the team is working from different locations. It’s definitely a challenge, but it’s not impossible.
Social media marketing company Buffer gave each of their employees a Jawbone UP wristband that would track if the person slept enough hours, their walking habits, and so on, and shared these details with the team. These small tidbits of information became conversation starters at meetings and also encouraged employees to talk to each other outside of work.
The lesson here is for the business to encourage sharing to nurture the bond between peers. Don’t leave it to the employees, but rather, take active steps to bring about transparency within the team. You can do this with something as simple as a weekend dinner done over a video call. Here employees can eat and talk about their week. Plan these virtual get-togethers and schedule them, so it’s on everyone’s calendar.
2. Follow the process of documenting everything
The challenge with communication goes beyond personal conversations. When working remotely, employees are often clueless about what each person on the team is working on, and a considerable amount of time is spent every day just getting everyone on the same page.
This wastage of time and effort can be easily avoided by documenting everything that is planned, being worked on, and delivered in one location. This will also help employees get all the information they need from one single repository, rather than have to search through emails and chats to find what they need.
There are enough tools available for you to achieve this. You can use project management tools like Asana to track tasks, Google Drive to store documents, communication platforms like Slack to maintain conversations in one place, and create a private wiki to document policies, procedures, processes, workflows, and projects.
With the tools in place, create processes that encourage employees to document everything they do. Introduce processes like daily standups that ensure employees share enough information about the work they d, and so on.
3. Make work-life balance a business responsibility
Maintaining a work-life balance has been an ongoing and vital conversation for as long as corporations have been around. Surprisingly, once teams went remote, the conversation seems to have fizzled. Businesses are of the assumption that working from home automatically instills a balance between work and personal life. The employee is, after all, working from the comforts of their own home surrounded by family, right?
This is far from the truth. A study by monster.com found that 69 percent of employees working remotely post-Covid are experiencing burnout. There are many reasons for this – irregular work hours, stretched work hours, constant overtime, a lack of recognition, the feeling of isolation, and so on. Interestingly, a study by Deloitte on the topic of employee burnout found that 70 percent of employees feel their employers are not doing enough to prevent or alleviate burnout.
What does this tell us? Working in remote teams does not automatically result in stress-free and happy employees, and the responsibility of preventing burnout is actually on the business. You need to establish a working process where employees can actually enjoy a positive work-life balance.
Encourage employees to take holidays, go on vacation, celebrate festivals, and so on. Make holidays and personal time a part of the work culture, ask employees to document how many hours they spend on hobbies and personal pleasure, and make taking time off mandatory. You can also help employees enjoy their free time better by offering company-sponsored holidays or events like music lessons.
The key point is to make work-life balance a business KPI.
4. Every discussion should happen on an appropriate platform
We have already established how important open communication is, both personal and work-related. What’s equally important is the use of the right communication platforms.
Emails are great for official conversations. Slack works best for quick and informal instant chats, Zoom is a good option for video conferences and screen shares, and so on. You have a lot of options and each platform works well for particular types of conversations.
As a business, it’s your responsibility to establish what platform to use for each mode of communication. For official emails between teams and with clients, for example, email is the most efficient mode of communication. Even if you use a general platform like Gmail, you can use a Gmail signature template to make it formal and official. If you use Slack for official conversations, you could miss important discussions. Salck also works best for quick and unofficial conversations.
When you define what platform should be used for each mode of conversation, you also create proper divisions that help employees find information faster.
5. Prevent employee burnout with regular work breaks
Lastly, encourage employees to take short breaks in between work. When employees work in an office, they tend to take short breaks often because they have company to go on breaks with. This is something that is automatically followed as it is a part of the work culture.
When people work from home, however, breaks slip their minds, and they tend to work long hours at a stretch. This is one common reason for burnout when working remotely.
As a business, you need your employees to be happy and sharp. This ensures they are satisfied with the company and that you get the best out of them. But how do you encourage people to take breaks when they work remotely?
Again, there are incredible tools available today that help remote teams work productively. You can introduce the Pomodoro technique, for example. The Pomodoro technique involves working for a fixed duration of time, like 25 minutes, followed by a short break of about 5 minutes. This cycle repeats a couple of times before a longer break of about 30 minutes is introduced. These timings are completely up to you, of course. There are Pomodoro apps that can be used to track users’ work and break times, and these apps also remind the person to take a break.
The Habits that Will Help Your Remote Team Succeed
And there you have it, 5 habits of highly successful remote teams that you can implement within your own organization or team. Remember, managing remote teams can be challenging for managers and business heads. You have to look at remote working as another business process, and like every process, it needs planning, structure, and execution.
5 Habits That Make Remote Teams Highly Successful
- Encourage transparency and sharing among peers
Creating an environment of openness and sharing can be a challenge when every member of the team is working from different locations. Encourage sharing to nurture the bond between peers and take active steps to bring about transparency within the team.
- Follow the process of documenting everything
Document everything that is planned, being worked on, and delivered in one location. Create processes that encourage employees to document everything they do. Introduce processes like daily standups that ensure employees share enough information about the work being done, and so on.
- Make work-life balance a business responsibility
Encourage employees to take holidays, go on vacation, celebrate festivals, and so on. Make holidays and personal time a part of the work culture, ask employees to document how many hours they spend on hobbies and personal pleasure, and make taking time off mandatory.
Make work-life balance a business KPI.
- Every discussion should happen on an appropriate platform
As a business, it’s your responsibility to establish what platform will be used for each mode of communication. When you define what platform should be used for each mode of conversation, you also create proper divisions that help employees find information faster.
- Prevent employee burnout with regular work breaks
Encourage employees to take short breaks in between work. As a business, you need your employees to be happy and sharp. Again, there are incredible tools available today that are built to help remote teams work productively.