The pandemic has permanently transformed the working environment by introducing the work-from-home setup. Despite starting as a way for companies to sustain business operations during the pandemic without increasing the risk of infection, it has become a more flexible approach to working that comes with a wide range of benefits for both employees and employers.
Even with the worst of the pandemic finally behind us, many companies are still choosing to accept remote work as a part of their norms in varying degrees—whether through a fully online or hybrid setup. Regardless of how frequently it’s implemented in a typical work week, working from home means that remote teams are pretty much here to stay, which has forced employers to adopt a new strategic approach to collaboration.
Without the context of a conventional office setting, many companies have been forced to rethink their collaborative practices. Here are some tips to foster a cohesive and productive remote working environment.
Every successful team is founded on clear and consistent communication. Even in a work-from-home environment, it’s still possible to achieve this by leveraging different communication and collaboration tools and applications as these can help bridge the geographical gap to some extent. When choosing a platform, it’s best to make sure that your team members are comfortable using it.
Having a universal channel for regular updates, task assignments, scheduling announcements, and overall alignments can help maintain transparency among the team, while also keeping everyone on the same page.
While the office setting allowed supervisors to regularly check in with their team members, this is no longer the case when it comes to remote work. This can lead supervisors to feelings of suspicion and distrust, but it’s important to avoid acting on this. Apart from the fact that some employees find it much easier to be productive when they aren’t constantly being monitored, micromanagement can also create discord among your team members.
Not only can micromanaging reduce motivation and proactivity in employees, but it can also force them to slowly pull away from the team altogether. On the other hand, when employees feel like they are trusted to do their best in their tasks, they may feel much more empowered and can also start feeling a sense of ownership over their work.
This means that you shouldn’t constantly be asking them for updates on their pending tasks and trusting them to submit on or before the specified deadline. With that being said, it’s best to still speak to employees that may be submitting substandard work or missing deadlines, but these conversations should be reserved for serious cases.
Encouraging meaningful conversations that benefit the team in one way or another can help foster a sense of camaraderie among the members. This doesn’t mean scheduling meetings for every little issue as this will only lead to stress and exhaustion among employees. Instead, you can ask your members if they’d like to establish certain team rituals like regular check-ins, virtual coffee breaks, or end-of-week updates.
It’s important to ask your employees whether they’d enjoy something like this as imposing these online meetings without asking for feedback can lead to Zoom fatigue—the burnout associated with the overuse of video conferencing platforms.
In case your members don’t warm up to this idea, you can instead take these social interactions offline and invite them to a dinner at a restaurant. Face-to-face interaction can bring the team closer together by allowing them to interact with actual people rather than names on a screen. Social interaction can also come in the form of recognition and praise for a job well done, or by asking members for any feedback or concerns they may have.
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