Building Community with a Remote Team

A remote workforce has always had its benefits , such as access to a large pool of top-notch talent. However, the coronavirus pandemic has forced many businesses accustomed to physical offices to begin working remotely. Managers used to Donut Friday or Team-building Tuesday may wonder how to construct a feeling of community with a remote team.

“The Covid-19 situation will bring about permanent workforce changes. Companies that are made to adopt a distant staff should be considering it. When the pandemic passes, some workers won’t want to return to the office. Some will miss the workplace and might want to return,” stated TaxJar CEO Mark Faggiano, whose firm has 160 remote workers.

“But a substantial group of workers will love being at home. They’re likely to resist going back. It is going to cause problems for many organizations.”

One of those problems is probably the development of a sense of community.

What follows are four ideas to help your company build a community using its remote workforce.

Remote groups can be a strong asset to companies, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic. Photo: Alizée Baudez.

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Foster Open Communication

Spontaneous discussions and interactions are common in a physical workplace.

A”quick” question concerning the latest advertising campaign can be a welcome break to get up from the desk, walk 20 odd paces into a co-worker’s office or cubicle, and converse.

This form of interaction is not as natural with distant groups. Nonetheless, it is something which you can foster.

First, think about using messaging software. Slack is an example, but there are quite a few other group collaboration tools, such as Microsoft Teams, Facebook Workplace, Fleep, and similar.

Secondly, use statuses or a shared calendar to monitor when staff members are available to interruptions.

At a physical office, I might walk into a colleague’s workstation and ask a question in the worst time. Maybe she had been in the midst of a significant project. She’d sorted her ideas and was prepared to focus on the job. Then I interrupted.

As a supervisor, ask team members to book an hour or two per day when they are open and accessible for synchronous (happening at precisely the exact same time) communications.

Third, when possible, utilize video chat. By way of instance, if the aforementioned query is an emergency or on a deadline, then check your colleague’s status and request a video call.

“Do you have a moment to get a video call? I have a question about…”

Permit Social Interaction

It is normal in a physical workspace to talk about friends, family, and social activities.

You might learn about a co-worker’s enthusiasm for golf whilst sharing the creamer in a coffee station or find that the picture designer leaves early on Wednesdays to practice with his band, which performs 70s hits.

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These kinds of social interactions can happen in a remote workplace, too.

By way of instance, imagine having a daily”stand up” meeting with the remote team you handle. The meeting’s three purposes are to identify what each team member completed yesterday, what he’s working on now, and what possible problems or stumbling blocks might prevent him from finishing a task.

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At the start of this important meeting — conducted through video — let for a few minutes of small talk. Ask people about, say, their weekend. And encourage the type of social exchanges common in a physical office.

Next, consider including a channel only for social interaction in Slack or similar. The channel may be earmarked for posts about passions and hobbies. Set basic principles for the station, but otherwise enable the staff to post what interests them.

Encourage Collaboration

The combination of video conferencing platforms (with screen sharing capabilities) and collaborative tools like Google Sheets and Google Docs make it possible to work together in real time.

By way of instance, the software development team with an omnichannel merchant in Idaho meets remotely weekly for software projects. Participants include several coders.

Each team member can share his code or a problem with a job. The other programmers on the video call can join , offering code suggestions, and even analyzing code as the group works together.

Sometimes, the developers may have a”breakout session,” wherein they each work on another part of code for a few minutes while the whole team banters through the open video chat. A couple of minutes later, they will jointly test each segment.

Creatives, supervisors, and even customer support groups can all collaborate similarly.

Supervise Responsibly

In the end, even the action of responsibly supervising a distant team can help create a sense of community.

  • Schedule routine video meetings with folks and, individually, the whole group.
  • Request folks what they’re working on, and check on their progress.
  • Honor work schedules and disrupt only when team members can be found.
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