April 22, 2020 5 min read
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With 52 percent of the global workforce already working remotely at least once per week before the current situation, it is becoming essential for businesses to cultivate a productive and engaged remote team. One key factor is alignment between employee and company goals. Studies show that when employees understand how their work contributes to company objectives, productivity increases by 56 percent.
Here are five tips for how you can help your remote team align its goals.
Remote teams cannot function without excellent communication. It is critical in any group dynamic, but in a remote work setting, when interactions are limited to explicit platforms like instant messages or emails, even more so.
You can schedule regular company-wide meetings to provide plenty of opportunities for information sharing. Daily check-ins or standup meetings are another great way to provide a sense of the bigger picture, keeping everyone aware of what other teams are doing.
You can also create a digital office space where you can “pop over” for quick questions and short conversations by using designated or themed messaging channels. Schedule open-ended brainstorming sessions where, instead of a packed agenda, your team can come together to whiteboard ideas digitally. This can help focus and strengthen the company’s collective vision.
Frequent and clear communication helps keep company goals top-of-mind and fosters a sense of connectedness among employees.
Cultivate Personal Connections
One of the biggest challenges for remote teams is cultivating closeness among team members who have never met each other in person. Without a shared office space, there is less opportunity for organic conversations.
Days can be more scheduled when working remotely, with online discussions focusing on daily tasks and responsibilities. However, creating a personal dynamic within a distributed company significantly increases connectedness. It also boosts motivation to contribute towards the company vision, rather than just completing regular tasks in isolation. Engaged workers are also more productive, which leads to less turnover, more productivity and more revenue.
To cultivate a sense of community in a remote team, create spaces to get personal. This could take many forms: a Slack chat for silly conversations, a designated time during check-ins specifically to discuss personal well-being or requiring all meetings to be via video calls to make meetings more intimate, focused and engaging.
The more opportunities you provide for bonding on an interpersonal level, the closer your remote employees will be and the more motivated they will be to do their best work.
Managing any team can be a challenge, whether you are in a shared office or working remotely, but dealing with conflict can be a particularly difficult task when relationships and interactions are limited to the digital sphere.
Cultivating a connected team can build trust, which makes handling conflict easier. Creating an environment where good intentions are assumed is another way to avoid employee isolation and resentment.
As in any management role, it’s important to include your employees in goal-setting conversations and to provide both positive and constructive feedback regularly. By fostering a sense of trust, handling conflict with respect and fairness and providing feedback, managers help bring the team together and put them in a collective mindset working towards shared company goals.
Frame Tasks Around Goals
Another responsibility for team leaders and managers is making sure everything ties back to the big picture. For instance, opening and closing meetings and check-ins by drawing connections to overarching goals can help keep remote team members on the same page. Reminding individuals how their actions contribute to company goals contextualizes their daily tasks and makes them feel part of something bigger.
Define Clear Expectations and Processes
To understand how work contributes to the big picture, a clear system for tracking and planning work is necessary. By setting clear expectations and providing clear instructions, remote team members can reserve their energy for being productive, rather than figuring out what they need to do.
Designating specific communication channels for different types of tasks and messages facilitates information sharing and keeps people on track. You can help your team judge their productivity for themselves by setting individual and departmental goals with measurable outcomes.
Try encouraging collaboration by holding interdepartmental-strategy brainstorming sessions as well. This way, different groups can see how their work fits together. When there are adjustments to a process, you can schedule training sessions to keep everyone up to date.
Remote work is inherently flexible, so imposing a certain amount of structure via routines is helpful and creates a culture of reliability. When expectations and processes are communicated clearly, it makes it easier for employees to achieve small goals that contribute to the bigger picture.
When people understand why they are doing something, they are more motivated and work better. They also prioritize their tasks more effectively and take ownership of their work.
You can create a culture of transparency by explaining the reasons behind your decisions and how those relate to bigger goals. Shared communication channels make processes and decisions visible to all. And by making sure that information between departments is being shared, you can help your team see how everything is connected and how their work helps accomplish an end goal.
The future of work was and is remote. So, whether you’re already managing a remote team or this is your first time opening up your company to remote work options, learning how to keep team goals aligned despite distance will be an essential factor of future business success.