Struggling with Remote Team Dynamics? Discover Proven Strategies for Building Cohesion and Collaboration

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Remote working teams and hybrid schedules aren’t new concepts anymore. Over the last few years, businesses have adapted their mindsets to allow more flexibility with their employees’ working arrangements. 

This has allowed companies to create much more diverse team environments while also benefiting from larger talent pools. However, not every business loves the idea of managing employees outside of the office since it can create a number of unique management challenges. 

Still, with the right strategies in place, organizations can make sure their remote and in-office teams have the healthy levels of cohesion and collaboration they need to help move the business forward.

Overcoming Communication Barriers

Communication is one of those important features of a company that means something different to everyone. This can make it hard to define what exactly constitutes “good communication.” 

For many employees, having great communication means knowing what’s going on at all times. For others, it means knowing only the information most relevant to their job. This is especially important for businesses that are regularly growing and have multiple departments working toward a similar business goal; good communication is both personal and challenging. 

However, “good” communication can be a significant challenge to achieve when there is a mixed balance of remote and in-office employees. Employees who work in the office tend to assume those outside are working with the same level of information and vice versa.

For leadership teams, it’s important to prioritize the “right levels” of communication among all organizational members. This might mean having more frequent meetings or making sure managers are regularly checking in with other department heads to ensure there is proper alignment across disconnected team members. 

One of the largest hurdles companies will want to work toward is making sure their departments aren’t working in silos. While it is only natural for there to be less dialogue happening between projects as managers and their employees work hard at hitting certain milestones, there can be a tendency to have a heads-down approach to the work being accomplished.

If there aren’t several opportunities for teams to come together, share the information they’ve learned, build up connections and relationships, or check in with each other, there will often be miscommunications about important details or deadlines that need to be met.

Building Strong Relationships

Most people have the capability of forming natural bonds when they are in close proximity to one another. Whether it’s having shared interests in life or simply working in the same department, it can be easy to strike up a conversation and find commonalities in one another when working together in an office.

However, for organizations that operate with either partial or fully remote departments, these natural bonds are much harder to create. This is why it’s important that managers encourage their team members to be more intentional when creating social connections with their coworkers.

In order to achieve this, managers will want to think past just implementing video conferences or providing regular team updates. They’ll also want to make time to create opportunities for teams to come together and establish and maintain the company morale.

Below are some ideas you can try to help create additional opportunities for team-building:

  • Organize Virtual Coffee Breaks: Just because not all of your employees work in an office setting doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy coffee. Arranging for a coffee break together – either off-site or even virtually – can be a great way to allow everyone to unwind while getting to know each other a bit better.
  • Have a Virtual or In-Office Group Event: Company events are a great way for everyone to meet other individuals in the organization they might not have a chance to meet. Play a game, host a team building, or informally chat all are great ways to create a casual, friendly atmosphere that can help everyone get more connected.
  • Create a Group-sourced Newsletter: When organizations operate with remote teams, it can be hard to get everyone on the same page. A department or company newsletter can be a great way to unify communications all in one place. Newsletters can be created as a digital resource for all things related to the business, but they can also be the perfect location for team messages or to feature or recognize employees.
  • Implement More Cross-Functional Projects: To help avoid departmental siloes, department heads should work together to create opportunities for cross-functional collaboration among different groups. This gives employees from different departments a chance to work directly with others when managing a certain project or when spearheading new company initiatives.
  • Regularly Recognize Team Achievements: Working towards the same goal is a big part of helping your employees establish stronger relationships. Taking the time to recognize team achievements—as both a group and on an individual basis—sets the right tone when it comes to encouraging a great working culture. 

Establishing Trust and Creating Transparency

No company can be successful without a healthy level of trust between employees and the leadership team. But getting to this point does take work on everyone’s part.

Establishing trust starts with management groups setting the right tone with employees. This involves being open and transparent about business challenges or when expectations are being met or not. This type of honest dialogue encourages employees to do the same thing with others and their managers.

This level of honesty isn’t always easy for businesses to accept, as there is often a thought of “less is more” when it comes to sharing bigger issues with the team. However, transparency in all areas (the good and the bad) helps employees feel that they’re viewed as professionals and an important part of helping the business succeed.

Managers shouldn’t hesitate to establish milestones for their employees to work toward, including expectations regarding their performance or handing over ownership of certain tasks and projects. Very few employees like to feel micromanaged, and when these expectations are clearly outlined from the beginning, they are given the ability to work more autonomously.

Working through day-to-day tasks without feeling like someone is breathing down your shoulder is another important pillar of a strong foundation of trust. To achieve this, managers need to feel comfortable delegating tasks to employees while loosening the reigns when it comes to how their employees handle them.

All of this helps both the employees and their managers establish a healthy level of trust and respect for one another. This creates a great company culture where everyone feels valued whether they’re working in or out of an office.

Using the Right Tools and Technology

Your team’s ability to operate efficiently while working in a remote environment will depend on the tools and resources you make available to them. Having the right technology can help management teams bridge any gaps there might be when understanding project requirements or when facilitating better collaboration among departments.

The great thing is that there are literally thousands of different tools companies can invest in to help keep their teams more efficient. Some of these include:

  • Real-time communication tools and video conferencing applications
  • Project and task-management software
  • Cloud-based file sharing systems
  • CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platforms

The important thing you’ll want to remember is that while flashy software solutions might be great to have if your teams don’t adopt them, they want to serve a lot of value. It’s important that whatever tools you provide to your team actually help solve their issues and that employees are properly trained on how to get the most value out of them.

Managing Conflicts Constructively

It doesn’t matter what type of business you run or what type of working environment you’ve established – conflict among employees is inevitable. In fact, work settings are more prone to conflict than other areas of life since many people have their own ideas on how things should be accomplished, and often, being a passionate worker can be translated differently from one person to the next.

Still, while small, controlled doses of conflict can be healthy for an organization looking to scale, too much of it can be a major issue. Unresolved conflict can lead to the development of a toxic work environment that no one enjoys.

It’s important for management teams to maintain a proactive stance when identifying and helping to resolve conflict in the workplace. The last thing you want is for tempers to boil so aggressively that disciplinary action needs to be taken. One way to help address is this is by prioritizing discussions and training around conflict resolution and active listening techniques with all employees.

Many times, conflict arises from personality clashes or when one party feels disrespected. This is why it’s critical to encourage all employees to respect their peers while working towards a peaceful company culture. If and when conflicts arise that can’t seem to be resolved on their own, management teams should quickly become involved to help find a solution.

When workplace problems arise, managers should focus strictly on the issue itself – not necessarily on the person. This will help avoid employees feeling marginalized or having their sides chosen ahead of time.

Creating a Remote-Friendly Work Culture

Building a company culture designed to support remote workers requires more than good communication skills and providing the right tools and resources. You also need to create an environment where employees feel like an active part of the business, contributing to its success as employees who work in the office.

An important way businesses can start to create this type of working culture is by having empathy for their remote-working employees. There may be unique challenges or distractions that can come up when operating out of the office, and it can be difficult to separate the boundaries of work and personal life.

Rather than being judgemental of employees when these situations arise, you should actively demonstrate support. Wherever possible, afford a level of flexibility in their scheduling and respect their need to take breaks or handle personal commitments.

This doesn’t mean that managers need to constantly make exceptions for their remote employees that they wouldn’t make for in-office employees. It simply means that there should be a balance that’s allowed to be struck, and managers shouldn’t be too rigid when it comes to overseeing remote teams.

A great way to achieve this balance is by focusing on performance instead of attendance. If you have specific goals or milestones in place, let your employees work in a way that’s optimal for them to achieve them. This may mean working different hours than other employees or working some days in the office and others at home.

When you’re focused more on the outcomes and not trying to keep your employees uniformed and working the exact way you would, you prove to them that you trust their judgment and help to establish a healthier working culture.

Make Your Remote and In-Office Teams More Cohesive

Managing a remote team isn’t always easy. It can take hard work to ensure that all of your employees stay productive while continuously working towards the same goals. However, by following the best practices mentioned, you can successfully create a supportive and productive environment for all of your employees regardless of where they work.

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