Fostering a remote work team

Fostering a Remote Work Team

In 2018, less than 10 percent of Canadian workers had the option to work from home and only gave most of those the choice of one or two days per week. A July 2020 StatsCan report found that 40 percent of Canada's workers shifted to remote work as the pandemic forced lockdowns and stay-at-home orders. The reality is that the pandemic brought to light how feasible it is to have a remote team. Yet, we're still grappling with managing and building that team when all we've known is how to operate from an office setting. With a bit of ingenuity, you can translate the "in-office" mentality to the "at home" reality. 

Change your communication strategy.

There's no longer the ability to gather at the water cooler or pop down to the lunchroom for a quick coffee break with a remote team. Communication takes a whole new meaning when there are no physical bodies in view, so be cautious that your management of these workers doesn't become "out of sight, out of mind." On the other extreme, don't be the manager who sets up a video call when a simple email will do. Engage your staff by using various communication tools, reserving video calls for weekly team meetings or conversations that are likely to go back and forth. Consider a chat platform that allows your team members to communicate freely when the messages might be a short question. Email helps document timelines or project deadlines and can be archived for future reference.  

Empower your team with the right resources.

While remote workers set up their workspaces themselves, they still need specific resources to do their jobs effectively. You may consider enhancing their home office comfort by offering them a noise-cancelling headset, a licence for user-friendly web-based software (like editing software) or WiFi boosters. 

Build camaraderie. 

The best thing about working for an organization is the team itself and knowing you're part of something bigger. Collaboration, brainstorming sessions and coffee breaks need not fall by the wayside. While it's more challenging to engage co-workers who are dispersed, it's essential to make everyone feel included. Find ways to engage the team without calls and emails being all work, all the time. Perhaps 15-minute virtual water cooler chats on Fridays where everyone can share a highlight from the week, not work-related. Although "zoom fatigue" may be a downside to remote work, video conferencing still has a time and place. For example, brainstorming sessions are a great way to engage your staff while also reading body language.