Adjusting from a co-located to a remote workgroup requires intentional actions to maintain a strong sense of team.
The circumstances of 2020 forced us all to look at how and where our staff work. In the span of a few weeks, many organizations adjusted to having staff working both in the office or branch and remotely from home, a new experience for many.
These adjustments required an intentional effort to make sure staff had what they needed to not only be productive, but also stay connected to and engaged with the organization. Supporting employee engagement of people who report to us requires making sure staff have not just technical resources but also flexibility, communication and continued connection with others.
According to the 2020 Global Workplace Analytics Work from Home Report, those that began working remotely as a result of the pandemic noted a 14% decrease in their satisfaction with collaboration with others and a 30% decrease in satisfaction in the ability to be coached, mentored or managed by others.
This data serves as a great reminder for leaders to build out opportunities for connection and avoid slipping into an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. The following are reflections you can consider in support of leading a blended team.
1. Does Your Team Have Access to the Resources Needed to Be Successful?
It’s critical to ensure that all staff on your team have access to needed resources, including equipment and access to people. Follow up with your team members to make sure they have functioning hardware and access to program—and talk with them about what they should do if they don’t. Schedule opportunities for your team to connect via regular team meetings. Remind staff of any chat or video call platforms available to support quick touch bases.
2. Have Expectations Been Set With Staff Regarding Workflows and Schedules?
Unless you have staff that are managing calls from or live chats with members, there is likely flexibility in the workday. Regardless of where staff are working, the expectations for completing their responsibilities should be the same. Communicate to team members how and when things like project deadlines will be updated or communicated, as this will help keep everyone up-to-date. It also can be helpful to set expectations for what team members need to tell each other when they’re going to be unavailable for a time (to help the kids with remote school or to attend a meeting).
3. Do You Hold Regular Team Meetings or Check-Ins?
Find ways to bring your team together. This could be a regular virtual team meeting with cameras, a weekly team chat to identify needs, or team emails to share updates and successes. Maybe an occasional virtual happy hour would help people connect. These small things offer interaction remote staff that may miss the office connections and reinforces the team and focus on collaboration.
4. Are You Intentional About Checking In With Your Remote Team Members Individually?
Consistently checking in with your team members not only supports productivity but also your relationship. This doesn’t mean a one-hour check-in is needed for each member of your team each week. Everyone is different and some may need more and some less direct communication. However, do not simply wait for your team members to contact you. When working together in an office, you can stop by and say hi and do a quick pulse check. When people are virtual, you can send a quick chat, an email or a schedule bi-weekly call to share updates, address any questions or see how things are moving with life.
Whether you and your team are co-located, all work remotely or are a mix of both, answering these questions will help you develop practices that give you in the know about your team members and how they’re doing. Even if you’re working remotely, don’t lose sight of the value of your interactions and the role you play in creating connection and a strong sense of team.
Jennifer Stangl is director of professional development at CUES. Contact her to discuss customized team building sessions to build strong relationships and strengthen your team engagement.