Long-Distance Team Work – How to Keep Your Team Engaged?

Many companies that never seriously thought about having remote teams, already adapted to working from home to combat the coronavirus outbreak. Some are even thinking about making it permanent. Millions of people are now working from the coziness of their homes and it is more important than ever to keep the team’s spirits high.

For many, working from home means more distractions and fewer ways to interact naturally with colleagues. All that can easily lead to less productivity and frustration. While fighting to avoid that, numerous organizations had made an effort to create an atmosphere of ingenuity, creativity, and care, just to keep their teams motivated and connected through this period of continued uncertainty.

Exactly the very nature of this period that combines fear, anxiety, and concern – is what is starting to take its toll. And for that, it is of the utmost importance to make sure your team’s well-being is being prioritized.

OK, let’s see what is it that any manager can do to prevent possible negative outcomes of this situation. What can you do to keep your team’s spirit high and strong?

1. Communicate and create a common vision

When times are hard and unpredictable, the purpose of what we do can easily be hidden or even lost. Precisely because of that, every manager simply must map out a common vision for your team and stick to communicating it.

Share as clear of a vision as possible and be sure to adapt as you go. By doing so, you will help give everyone in your team a sense of purpose, allowing them to find focus and sense of direction in their work. These major changes can actually encourage innovation and creativity and your team and you can be discovering some new ways of working that can help you to achieve bigger and better business objectives.

And sharing the vision is crucial for that!

It allows you to give your team a glimpse of something positive that the future can bring, while at the same time, it allows them to make constructive suggestions that can benefit the business.

By ensuring your team’s attention is focused on positive results, you are truly keeping their spirits up. So, communicate more and better than ever. Regular morning calls are a great way to catch up with your team, you can also include scheduled assessments to ensure all staff is comfortable in their home workspaces, and a weekly ‘pep talk’ from the CEO can do wonders.

2. Be understanding of your team’s needs

First of all, you must never lose sight of the fact that each one of your employees is dealing with a unique set of circumstances. Some of them are parents, some of them are extremely social people who are taking this social distancing thing pretty hard and others will have other issues to consider. It’s your job, among other duties, to help them adapt to their new routine.

Develop and keep an employee-centric approach as it is vital for reducing stress and anxiety your team might face. If you’re busy yourself, try scheduling these interactions. Keep a calendar of the check-ins you have with people and make sure to free up time if it’s been a while since you spoke to your team. Make little notes on the things they share with you so you can ask about the situation the next time you talk.

3. Keep the collaboration alive and kicking

An open flow of communication and bouncing ideas off of each other is what keeps collaboration alive. Clear this path so your employees don’t find themselves struggling to gain the inspiration they need to work creatively. The lack of face to face contact can be a setback and it might be the best moment to employ some collaboration tool to help you out. This can especially help teams that are used to working collaboratively, as remote work presents a particular challenge for them. Long story short: let the tool make your life that much easier.

4. Make sure your team has enough downtime

What we learned during this lockdown is that working from home leads to fewer breaks and less exercise. It’s hard to tell where work ends and personal life begins when all of it is happening in our living rooms.

As regular breaks and exercise are essential for health, well-being, and productivity – a healthy work-life balance should be encouraged. Encourage breaks, walks, and time outs and don’t expect your team to be readily available at any time just because you know they’re home.

5. Keep in mind all the difficulties your team may face

What first comes to mind are, of course, social isolation, distractions at home (closed schools and other family members working and studying from home), constant worry about family and friends, worries about changes to their job, and getting used to different ways of doing things…

No matter how we deal with the situation, we need to keep in mind that this new normal doesn’t match with what we once saw as normal.

Reassure people that it is OK to have doubts, fears, and concerns. Make it normal and natural for them to come to you if any of that affects their work. Remember that we are all in this together and each one of us reacts differently to circumstances. If possible, create routines and habits as they can provide security and stability. Establish structured daily check-ins. Provide opportunities for remote social interaction.

All in all, there is no reason for us to make a hard situation harder. A little empathy can go along way, and it’s sure to be more appreciated at a time like this.

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