Companies are becoming more open to the idea of allowing their employees to telecommute or hiring from pools of freelancers with specific skill sets. The perks of having an established remote team across the world include benefits such as:
- Cutting costs
- Improved productivity
- Higher rates of employee satisfaction
While the benefits of a remote team are vast, there are certainly some drawbacks. For example, remote work can be a lonely gig, virtual employees often spend their workweek in isolation behind their screens as they work away on projects. Whether you have a team of 10 or only a few, It can be difficult to get them to communicate and collaborate with one another.
Since we are a distributed and remote team, these challenges are close to heart. As such, we decided to share 3 different ways to collaborate with your remote teams and improve productivity.
Create a Digital Water Cooler
Small talk is underrated, casual conversations between employees help to strengthen their bond and trust with one another. Research has shown that making small talk improves cognitive ability.
With geographically isolated team members, it’s difficult to have a shared space, where they can converse with each other in person. In a technological age, you can solve this problem by creating a virtual space where your team can speak freely with one another. Encourage your remote workers to have casual conversations that aren’t always work-related to build the team’s cohesion and boost morale.
Create a digital water cooler by:
- Utilize a Slack Channel—a dedicated channel on Slack (a single place for messaging, tools and files) or a similar communication tool such as Discord can allow for casual conversations that can give your team downtime. Common digital water cooler channels on Slack or a similar team communication software can include #random, #kudos, or #general.
- Make the channel unmoderated—conversation should flow freely and casually without the risk of being penalized by management.
- Perks—encourage your remote workers to use the channel to have conversations about topics other than work.
Remote Team Building Activities
Invest in activities that unite your team and allow them to build a rapport by playing games, solving problems or learning new skills.
Team building activities that can be done remotely:
Gaming—Whether it’s on a PC or PlayStation 4, you can utilize games to encourage collaboration and to promote teamwork. Give your team a set time to play, outside of work time and allow them to bond with each other.
Video—Willing participants can keep their webcams on for the duration of their work hours. This can help to create an atmosphere of shared space, akin to an office.
Quizzes—Remote team members can work by themselves or in groups to answer questions and win prizes, helping them to bond outside of work hours.
Education—Helping your employees to further their skills will improve their focus and productivity. Furthermore, this can be done in groups with the whole team. Consider using webinars, online tutorials or providing tickets to seminars.
Meet and Greets
Video conferencing and phone calls are great when it’s your main form of communication. However, meeting face to face can boost your team’s productivity and employee retention. According to a study published in the Harvard Business Review, 35 percent of the variation in team performance can be accredited to the number of personal interactions they have.
It only takes a couple of face-to-face interactions per year to see the benefits. Schedule retreats or trips where everyone will have enough time to get to know one another.
On a more frequent basis, encourage members of the remote team to interact with one another if they live in close proximity.
The Bottom Line
Managing a remote team and improving their productivity can be easily done with the correct leadership. Geographical location isn’t as important as a willingness to invest time, effort, and empathy to help team members bond.