As offices change and remote roles become more and more common, the managing style has to change with the times too. Can you connect a remote team?
Before we all knew personally our coworkers, and as leaders we could see closely the personalities and strong points of each one of the members of our teams.
But with the latest changes and remote member joining our team, we can find ourselves kind of lost when identifying an employee and more importantly in connecting with them.
Our role is to make everyone feel part of the project and help them engage with it so they feel the commitment we need to achieve the success we strive for.
But having almost (if any) personal contact with those remote workers might make that idea of connecting with our employees almost unachievable.
As complex as it might seem, it is not impossible to create those connections with the remote members of the team, we just have to adjust and change something to adapt to these particular situations.
This is how we make sure to connect with our remote teams and help them feel part of the group just as much as if they were sitting at the office.
Teams are made of real people, whether they are physically beside each other or not. So as leaders we have to find the way to create that environment in which everyone feels confortable sharing, communicating and connecting with the rest of the team.
The goal is to avoid those remote team members to feel like outsiders. So what can we do about it?
Yes, creating empathy. Go through how your virtual team started in the company, how they felt with each initial interaction, how much productive were the videoconferences you held and how much information did they have about the culture of the company right at the beginning.
Does it fee enough? Do you think there is something missing? Any gaps? You would probably be able to identify the mistakes, but if you have trouble with that, you can always reach out to those members of the team and ask them openly how do they feel about the communication and the connections they are establishing with the rest of the team and what do they think that can be improved. Be open to hear what they have to say and adapt those suggestions to what you think matches right with your company.
At the regular office we run into colleagues at lunchtime, printing, photocopying or just in the corridor. Common conversations occur that slowly bring us closer and help us get to know each other.
Actually great friendships are born at work, since normally we spend a large amount of time with our coworkers.
Sadly remote employees miss out on those small personal conversations, but as leaders we can allow a space for those connections to happen, so everyone in the team feels connected and gets to know each other.
Some companies have an open calendar policy, in which team member let everyone know some gap time that they might have to chat a little. We can start ourselves those chats and just call for an informal meeting with some short notice just to catch up, no pressure to be prepared for work questions, just a short time to simply talk about how things are going with each of you lately.
Essentially this is all about adapting and changing habits, understanding the advantages and difficulties that remote teams bring along and embracing them. We encourage team leaders to seek for the professional but also for the person, stay aware of the human factor even if the person is not physically there, and understand their needs. Communication is, more than ever, key.