Working remotely allows people a certain amount of autonomy, but being less engaged with the day-to-day routines and culture of the office can reduce an employee’s productivity and sense of belonging. How do you know what’s too much or too little? It’s important to keep your remote team members in the loop without micromanaging them. Here are five best practices for building mutual trust and an organizational culture with your remote team.
- Onboard effectively. Remote workers can easily feel disengaged from an organization. Even if a team member cannot visit the organization in-person, spend time sharing information about the organization’s history, leaders, collaboration and communication tools, as well as mission, vision, and values. Share the same information with both in-office and remote team members. This approach provides the foundation on which your team is built.
- Set clear expectations and goals. What goals do the entire organization, team, and individuals need to attain and in what time frame? Communicating your expectations and goals upfront allows for greater focus on the results. One well-known standard in setting expectations and goals is the SMART criteria:
- Make communication easy. Communicate with your team with a multi-mode approach to allow them the most flexibility. This can include various communication channels (verbal vs. written and formal vs. informal), with both required and optional participation and response, as well as in different settings (large group, small group, and individual). This approach increases the prospect of your remote team being receptive to organizational communication and retaining the information.
- Recognize performance. In traditional office settings, shout outs for a job well done are easily visible with an employee of the month parking space or certificates hanging on the wall. When exceptional performance is noted during a team meeting or in a newsletter, it can be a powerful motivator especially for remote teams, and an example for other team members.
- Be intentional and proactive. Strong remote work cultures do not build themselves. Make a plan to work with your remote team, execute the various elements, ask for feedback from your team, and use their suggestions to refine your plan to better fit their needs. Be flexible and prioritize the needs and interests of the team when you can. Communicate when it’s necessary to balance their needs and interests with organizational requirements.
Building mutual trust and culture with your remote team can have a positive impact on their productivity and job satisfaction. To kick start results, remember to onboard effectively, set clear expectations and goals, make communication easy, recognize performance, and be intentional and proactive.
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