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People First – Sustaining Team Engagement in Remote/Hybrid Teams

Remote and hybrid work models are emerging as the future of work in the post-pandemic era. Companies that offer hybrid/remote work arrangements need to prioritize remote team engagement. Employee engagement is linked to higher productivity, higher revenue, and enhanced customer satisfaction.

Here are some ways to of engaging remote teams and building a strong team culture:

Be clear of the team culture that you are committed to

A strong company culture positively impacts employee engagement and boosts revenue growth. 94% of leaders and 88% of employees believe a positive workplace culture contributes to business success, as per a Deloitte study.

Positive work culture helps your teams do much more than just complete projects; it empowers teams to excel at what they do. Building and sustaining a strong remote team culture involves:

  • Discussing and agreeing on the Team’s Charter – Behaviours & Values to encompass remote work.

  • Obtaining buy-in and commitment internal and external communication policy and etiquette.

  • Prioritizing asynchronous communications and one-on-one interactions to obtain feedback and discuss growth opportunities

  • Expanding rewards & recognition to include behaviour-based not only performance-based

Be committed to the desired and undesired behaviors

For working remotely to be sustainable, it is important to be cognizant of desired and undesired behaviors as:

  • There is a tendency to share less information in online communication. This can lead to misunderstandings and poor decisions;

  • A higher potential for distraction can hamper the quality of communication.

  • Research suggests that online interactions make introverted workers feel more comfortable and less inhibited. Text-based communication places less importance on physical appearance or interpersonal skills, offering people an effective way to participate in decision-making.

  • A Gartner study shows employee misconduct rises by 33 percent in times of uncertainty. Establish appropriate channels for remote teams to report misconduct and unethical behavior to promote employee well-being and psychological safety at the workplace.

Be present to the different working arrangements people have

Remote work can mean different things to different employees. Leaders need to be explicit and specific when determining the company's remote work policy while clearly understanding the different remote work arrangements employees have:

Reflect on these aspects to optimize remote work management:

  • Can employees set their own flexible remote work schedule?

  • Do employees have the physical space to establish a home office?

  • Do employees need to come to the physical office periodically to collaborate?

  • Do they get an allowance to establish a home office?

Be aware that remote does not mean robot

Treating remote teams like robots can destroy creativity and engagement. It is crucial for leaders to:

  • acknowledge stress,

  • be cued in on employees' emotions, concerns, and anxieties,

  • while empathizing with their struggles.

A survey shows that companies that have established trust-based cultures enjoy higher levels of customer satisfaction, innovation, agility, and employee engagement.

Empower your remote teams by avoiding micromanaging, overloading them with work, or over-messaging. Promote remote team's wellbeing and work-life balance by enabling them to unplug after work.

  • How many hours do the employees have to be online every day?

  • Do employees have to be available at specific times despite being located in different time zones?

  • How are the meetings being scheduled so that employees have the mind space to work on what they need to?

Be ready to deal with the internal and external headwinds of living your team culture

A critical aspect of managing remote teams is to optimize relationships with both internal and external stakeholders. One of the steps is to identify the external stakeholders who can range from other departments and teams within the organization, suppliers, contractors, customers, government to top management. The next step is to understand stakeholder expectations while engaging them with ongoing authentic communication and supporting your team as needed so that they know you have their backs.

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