Friday, 3 Sept 2021 | 6 min read
7 tips to keep your remote team connected
While it looks like lockdown orders have become a thing of the past (we hope!), workers and employers are still enjoying the benefits of working from home and hybrid in-office and remote working arrangements.
Pandemics aside, remote and hybrid working are becoming increasingly common – not only do they allow businesses to draw from a much wider talent pool, but they also place fewer limitations on where staff can live.
In a new world where these new work arrangements are becoming the norm, businesses, managers and supervisors need to consider how they plan to keep staff connected and engaged while working remotely.
Why is a sense of connection important for remote workers?
There is a growing body of research that suggests that positive work cultures lead to a host of benefits over time, including improved employee performance and wellbeing, staff retention and even an improved bottom line for the company. A major element of creating a positive work culture is ensuring your staff feel connected to each other as a team.
If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to begin thinking about what proactive steps your team is taking to stay connected while working from home. Whether working completely remotely, hybrid, or your company is moving away from office-centric working arrangements, keeping your team connected will contribute towards the sustainability and effectiveness of your team in the long run.
7 tips to keep a remote team connected
1. Develop and implement remote working policies
Policies and procedures may not seem like the obvious place to start when it comes to keeping your team connected. However, it’s important to have a clearly communicated plan that outlines expectations of staff is a simple way to avoid confusion, panic, miscommunication and lapsed productivity. It provides staff – particularly new hires – a level of confidence so they know what is expected of them and what actions to take.
Prior to COVID-19, it would have been understandable if businesses had not developed any remote working policies. However, the working landscape has changed dramatically since then, so developing and implementing these policies should be your number one priority.
A few things to consider with your policies should include:
Internet security and customer confidentiality
Work hours and how flexible you are with those hours
Whether cameras are expected to be on during video conference calls
Use of company equipment, if supplied
Appropriate channels of communication
As with any policy, make sure your legal and HR teams also check it over.
2. Establish regular, structured check-ins
Loneliness and feelings of disconnection can become common, particularly for long-term remote employees. Although remote work does have many upsides, one criticism is that it’s harder for staff to experience the same sense of camaraderie, cultivate a team culture, and exchange ideas.
If you’re a manager or supervisor, scheduling regular, structured check-ins with your staff, both individually and as a team, are a good way to counter feelings of disconnection.
3. Collaborate on projects via video conferencing
As mentioned before, a major criticism of remote working is that it becomes harder for teams to collaborate on projects and share ideas. One way to counter this is for teams to work on projects collaboratively via video chat.
Make the most of apps like Google Docs or Sharepoint, which allow multiple people to edit documents at the same time. While it’s hard to replicate the conditions of real-life collaboration, this is the next-best thing.
Keep these sessions relatively short, though – Zoom fatigue is real!
4. Account for ‘Zoom fatigue’
While it’s important to ensure you have scheduled time to meet with your team over teleconference, don’t overdo it. Video conferencing can be a lot more tiring than face-to-face meetings.
A Stanford study found that video chats fatigue humans in four key ways:
Excessive amounts of close-up eye-contact is highly intense.
Constantly seeing yourself in a video chat is tiring, and can lead to you becoming more critical of yourself.
Video chats dramatically reduce mobility.
The cognitive load is much higher in video chats, as you cannot rely on non-verbal communication to send and receive signals.
Avoid ‘Zoom fatigue’ by ensuring any video chats you schedule with staff are relatively short and structured.
Additionally, consider how important it is to you for your team to always have cameras on. Perhaps try giving your team an out or expectations for when video is required and when it’s optional.
5. Make the most of available apps
Let’s face it, email is not an effective medium through which to keep your team connected. There are, however, a huge range of applications and programs on the market that do this really well.
Slack, for instance, is a versatile messaging app that allows workplaces to set up channels which can be created based on teams, interests or particular projects. It provides a great way for employees to communicate and feel connected to the team and the wider company.
Asana, Monday, ClickUp, and Trello make tracking remote workflows that require team collaboration a breeze. There are also a heap of end-to-end encrypted messaging applications available for discussions, particularly when topics include sensitive information.
Email certainly still has a place in workplace communications – just don’t make it the only platform you rely on to keep your team connected.
6. Create opportunities for social interaction
Creating opportunities for staff to interact socially doesn’t have to look like a weekly game of trivia over Zoom. There are so many other ways to foster connection in your team that don’t require a video chat. Be creative! Maybe you could start a book club and discuss it on a dedicated Slack channel? Maybe your team could take part in an exercise challenge like STEPtember? Or maybe you could start a team-wide game of Words with Friends?
Although, we must admit, Zoom trivia can actually be pretty fun!
7. Offer support and encouragement
If you are a manager or supervisor, it’s important that your staff know that you are available if they need support. You may not be a qualified counsellor or therapist, but you can always lend a listening ear and offer a word of encouragement. If needed, you can point staff towards professional support and mental health resources.
Studies have shown that the emotions and responses of managers has a “trickle-down effect” on other staff – if you, as a manager, vocalise and demonstrate a culture of care and empathy, it’s likely to “trickle down” through staff as well.
Keep your team connected with reliable, high speed connectivity
Whether your staff are working completely remotely or your workplace is moving away from traditional full-time in-office working arrangements, it’s important to ensure your staff feel connected.
Your internet service is one of the key factors to keeping work-from-home and remote employees feeling connected. Ensure your business and staff have access to internet services that can power all the applications you need to stay connected while working remotely.
Cloud-based applications and teleconferencing are both incredibly bandwidth-intensive, so it’s important you select a plan proportional to your needs and choose an ISP known for it’s customer service and quality network.
Connect to fast, reliable nbn™ with Aussie Broadband. Making the switch is easier than you think – check out our great plans here or give our award-winning Australian-based team a call on 1300 480 905.
Editor’s note: This article was updated and refreshed on July 27, 2022 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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