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How to build effectiveness in a remote team

A large number of people have suddenly found themselves moved from face to face into remote working and now is the time to give consideration to developing the effectiveness of your team.

How you communicate now that you are remotely connected is the essential next step to ensure your team feel engaged and business survives and even thrives through the next couple of months.

The sudden shift from the establish routines of a workplace into the isolation of working from home may have left some people feeling disorientated and struggling to focus.  Don’t expect your team to mind read your expectations – ensure you discuss how the change impacts the focus and purpose of any role that has moved to remote working.  Acknowledge the family challenges people are facing and regularly show appreciation for all that is being achieved

To increase the effectiveness and well-being of a newly remote team:

  1. Maintain your ‘norms’ as much as possible.
    Discuss and agree a working daily structure for your remote team, this helps people to focus and plan. 

If you normally catch up every day with the team, (even if this is only informally) create an online meeting to replace this, if possible, at a similar time.  Start by ensuring everyone contributes with something positive and be mindful that the more extrovert do not dominate decision making.   Those who are naturally quiet and reflective in meetings are likely to find getting their voice heard even more difficult in an online meeting.

Ensure the agenda gives time to catch up on a ‘human’ as well as a business level.  Virtual meetings have been giving us a glimpse into each other’s homes, use this opportunity to enable colleagues to get to know more about each other.

Establish a regular routine of one to one video meetings.  Roughly 80% of communication comes through visual clues so this will help you to quickly understand who is struggling and who is thriving in this new world of remote working.

  1.  Communication needs to increase not decrease
    Without the informal meeting opportunities that happen naturally it the kitchen and corridors people can quickly start to feel isolated and anxiety levels increase.  Communication voids are filled, and in times of no information people will assume the worst.  To counteract this, ensure you consistently give honest updates; even if there is no solution to a challenge keep communicating that it remains work in progress.

Email is very effective in distributing information but if levels have now greatly increased it could be feeling like ‘bombardment’ and have the effect of causing anxiety.  To avoid overwhelm and increase focus consider asking everyone to mark emails within the subject line as; For Action, For Information or For Urgent Response.

  1.  Maintain connections around the business
    Working remotely, it is very easy to fall into silos.  By establishing meetings across departments, at all levels, the collaboration that happens naturally in face to face environments can be maintained.

Within the work place its straightforward to compare what you are doing and how you are doing it with colleagues – working remotely people may worry that they ‘are not doing this right’.  Ensure you have regular informal calls and be mindful of those who are not interacting – they may need additional support.

The virtual leader of any team sets the style and tone for others.  Be optimistic that you can get through this but don’t be afraid to let your team know that you are finding this challenging. By finding ways to maintain trust and human connections within the organisation you will ensure people feel connected both on a personal and a business level.  

I hope you found this useful.  If you would like support to develop your remote team, please do get in touch. 

Helen Burgess

Helen Burgess

Coach, Consultant, Facilitator Specialising in working with Entrepreneurs & Family Owned Businesses

Coach | Consultant | Facilitator for Leadership, Culture and Career challenges. I have worked with a variety of clients, from senior executives to sole entrepreneurs; with those just starting out in their career and those returning after career breaks. I love the diversity and unique nature of coaching and am passionate about the calm quiet way it enhances confidence, communication and overall sense of personal wellbeing. I have a PG Cert in Business & Personal coaching, training in interpersonal dynamics via Transaction Analysis TA101, team and group coaching training and am a Mental Health First Aider (MHFA).