Most of us are working from home these days. We may have started off thinking of it as a temporary measure, but now it’s clear that many of us won’t be returning to the office in the foreseeable future—if ever. Now that we have a base of experience, it’s time to think about how we can create virtual teams that are truly effective and will serve us well in the long haul.
Here are some starting points:
Model the right kind of behavior. Leadership is especially crucial in a virtual teams, but research shows that leaders consistently fail to recognize how their actions influence others. Model the attitudes and behaviors you want to see. To signal that virtual working is the new standard, make sure you keep yourself organized and equipped with everything you need, including good Wi-Fi.
Create informal meet-ups. Set up virtual meeting rooms where people can connect for quick meetings and communicate informally. And make sure you show your presence by hanging out there from time to time to connect with your team. Pop in, listen to what people are saying and contribute to the conversation where you can.
Develop a communication hub. Set up a channel in your messaging app or chat function where people can talk about what’s happening in the world and in their lives, post memes and videos, and compare notes on podcasts or movies. Think of it as a virtual water cooler.
Be respectful of people’s time. Just because your people are working from home, don’t make a habit of expecting them to check in at the crack of dawn or stay up late for team meetings. Especially in unsettled times, people need to be able to rely on their home routine, whether that means an early-morning walk or helping their kids with homework. People aren’t at their best when they’re pulled from those routines.
Measure your success. As you implement changes to accommodate remote teamwork, measure the results against what you had before. If it’s a change that affects clients or employees, set up an anonymous survey or another channel to solicit candid feedback—and listen to the responses. Tracking results and monitoring feedback can help make ensure that your virtual workplace is serving your team well
Keep people safe. Psychological safety matters in the workplace, with remote teamwork it requires more attention than ever. People are comfortable working in an environment when they feel safe making mistakes, speaking up, and generating innovative and creative ideas. Above all else, make sure your people feel that same sense of safety in their virtual workplace.
Taking the time to create a remote environment where teams can work effectively, stay connected with their colleagues, and know they’re safe pays off in engagement, morale, collaboration, and productivity.
Lead from within: You need to be able to motivate talent and inspire people wherever they are. Then when they succeed, they strengthen your team and your organization even more.