What's your experience with remote workers

How to ensure the integration of remote employees and optimize the virtual collaboration of the teams

The usual work processes have changed significantly in the last few months. Employers from a wide variety of industries are now faced with the challenge of ensuring the constant integration and productivity of their remote employees. It is important to find the right balance between technical challenges and stressful times so that the teams work together and brainstorming works effectively in a virtual environment. Regardless of whether you are managing a virtual team for the first time or have been familiar with it for years - you will surely appreciate these tips, because they support you in creating the conditions for the long-term success of your team. These remote team best practices will keep your team motivated, engaged, and on track to achieve common goals.

1. What is important when integrating remote employees

There are some big differences between working from home and working in an office. Working remotely has advantages and disadvantages. But the greatest challenge is often to ensure that remote employees are always involved in what is happening, and - given the physical distance, to create a real sense of belonging among teammates. Most likely, you will have a completely different experience with the involvement of remote workers, when working remotely has already been an integral part of your business and you don't have to switch over overnight. Small companies in particular consciously rely on remote and have well-established instruments and processes that promote a feeling of togetherness. Onboarding only matters when hiring new employees. The company had enough time to develop, optimize and successfully use an infrastructure.

If your entire work concept has changed due to current events, you are probably going through a completely different process. Given the technical questions - how does IT support work for remote teams, do the employees have the necessary hardware and are the requirements for participating in video conferencing met? - How to convey a sense of togetherness and unity may not be a top priority. But it should.

If there is one company that is very familiar with the challenges of working remotely, it is Slack. Slack surveyed remote employees in the US and found that the change to this “... can put a strain on everyone at work. Almost half of employees who are working from home for the first time say that working from home has had a negative impact on their sense of belonging. But experienced remote employees show us that togetherness can improve over time. ”From this we can see that there are problems with virtual teams, but they can be resolved. Time can help, but prioritizing best practices, improved workflows, and flexibility comes first.

If you are wondering how to build a strong culture with a remote team, it is worth thinking about what makes team building easier in an office. A shared physical space is an advantage for group activities, brainstorming sessions and one-on-one discussions. The good news: A virtual environment is also quite suitable for this:

  • Schedule regular video conferences that all members of your virtual team will attend.
  • Keep being creative and do virtual brainstorming.
  • Be transparent about the changed priorities of your team and the current goals of your company.
  • Do not expect perfect preparation from your employees. The times are stressful enough that your team also has to worry about whether their cats are disturbing in front of the webcam.
  • Use the best technology to work remotely. Try new things and find out what works best for your team.

2. How to integrate remote employees and nip burnout tendencies in the bud

This is probably one of the most common challenges you face when managing a remote team. Let's face it: even in an office setting, not all of your colleagues are always fully engaged. This is not always due to a lack of interest - some employees are simply introverted by nature and are very valuable to the company, even if they do not speak up very often in meetings. The difference is that when you share a physical space with someone you can tell how present that person is pretty easily. But if you are managing a virtual team, radio silence on Slack can be a cause for concern. But when it comes to inspiring individuals and motivating virtual teams, the effective involvement of employees is the basis.

In fact, almost everyone who works from home is distracted to some extent. It's a good idea to set up a work area where you can focus. But while many professionals have been working from home for years or even decades, there is now a new aspect: World affairs are probably an even greater distraction than our physical surroundings. The corona pandemic and other current events make up a lion's share of the entire attention economy today. Even if your teammates aren't reading or watching the news while they work, it's hard not to keep up with what's happening today. Some of your employees may not be fully engaged, others may deal with the stress differently. You may find that some members of your remote team are working overtime, taking breaks, and working long hours like never before. That sounds good in theory, but it's also a burnout accelerator.

Do not ignore this. Don't fight it. Keep an eye on developments.

To engage remote workers and help them find the right balance, you should maintain open communication.

This is a great opportunity to bring your geographically dispersed team together on a far more important cause that is more meaningful than new clients or new projects. Stimulate conversations, inquire, and investigate possible concerns. Through an open dialogue about current events, you create an atmosphere in which your virtual team feels encouraged to communicate. When a decentralized team is able to talk about emotions together, this strengthens a sense of community and belonging. Just expressing concerns or fears can help your employees reduce stress.

Open discussions not only have a positive effect on the psyche of your team members, but also form the basis for better communication about work tasks. As you focus on how to engage your remote workers, you may notice that they are more present, talk more, and show more enthusiasm as they develop a relationship with you and other team members. Remote team motivation is about motivating individuals first. As soon as everyone feels involved and supported, real collaboration can begin - even online.

3. Make concrete plans for virtual teamwork

If your remote workers have barely left their homes lately, Zoom meetings can quickly become something of an addiction. People look forward to seeing each other and exchanging ideas. This is great, positive energy, but it can also be time-consuming and obscure your view of specific goals.

Set up precise schedules for meetings and set precise guidelines. Is it a working session? A brainstorm? Let your team know. Formulate clear expectations about the results - clearer than ever before. Even the slightest ambiguity should be eliminated. Clearly indicate roles and responsibilities and set clear boundaries.

When it comes to online communication, some things can remain unclear. If your team is still getting used to working remotely, they may not understand your needs. Improve virtual collaboration by bringing everything into focus. Once people have a clear idea of ​​your vision and what they are doing, your decentralized team can easily work together to achieve the results you want.

Another strategy to improve collaboration is to set up group projects with smaller groups. Due to the smaller number of participants, everyone involved can save time and concentrate better on a few selected projects rather than on all tasks in the department. By doing this, you will also give your team a greater sense of pride, ownership, and enthusiasm for the projects they are committed to. How to motivate remote teams to do their best.

4. Use the best technology to work remotely

The best remote technology can make a significant contribution to improving communication and involving employees in the home office. Using a messaging tool like Slack, a video conferencing solution like Zoom, and an intuitive project management tool like Asana can greatly improve virtual collaboration. Check out this guide to the best remote collaboration tools.

Many of these tools can improve the collaboration and communication of virtual teams, but they do not necessarily provide information about which digital resources should be used for specific projects or customers. And if this was a weak point when your team was still working together in the office, it can now become an even bigger challenge in the home office.

In every office there is usually one person whom you turn to every time you are looking for a particular digital resource or information. Now that your team is virtually asking for help instead of dropping in in person, the problem is suddenly obvious. When that person is also on your team, you will eventually realize how much this distracts from their core responsibilities.

Many companies have recognized the importance of a central, uniform source of information for their employees. Perhaps a digital asset solution has been on your wish list for some time, and the drastic switch to remote work has reinforced this desire. After all, an effective digital asset management solution can do a lot:

  • Remote teams are still networked and integrated without being overloaded with routine work.
  • You gain new insights into the use of your resources.
  • You can access accurate, easy-to-find information and resources.
  • The uniformity of the brand is improved.

There are weaknesses in every workflow, but they become more stressful when you are managing remote teams. Effective digital asset management can make a decisive contribution to reducing chaos and streamlining your workflows. The World Bank has implemented a digital asset management system to better collaborate and enable all users to share and view content at the same time without creating bottlenecks.

Curious about how digital management can make remote work easier?