Fostering effective teamwork online requires a nuanced approach, blending the right mix of technology, communication, and leadership. As a remote manager, my journey has been about navigating the intricacies of virtual collaboration, striving to create an environment where teamwork thrives, despite the absence of physical interaction. The goal is to orchestrate a setting where every team member feels connected, engaged, and motivated to contribute towards our collective objectives.
In this digital era, promoting teamwork online isn’t just about leveraging the latest tools or platforms; it’s about nurturing a culture that values open communication, trust, and diversity.
Studies over the past years proved the benefits of establishing a teamwork culture in the workplace. For example, a study by Standford University reported that employees who worked as a team had higher engagement levels and success rates. Other studies have demonstrated that teamwork makes employees happier. And happy employees are more productive thus the success of the organization’s dream is guaranteed. The University of Warwick found out that happy employees are 20% more productive than unhappy employees.
To maintain the same level of collaboration online as your team had in the office but are unsure how to replicate this success virtually, you’re not alone. Drawing from our experiences over the past years, here are the five strategies that have been instrumental in fostering a strong culture of teamwork online.
1. Set Clear Communication Guidelines
It doesn’t matter whether you have worked in an onsite company all of your life or have been working remotely for many years. Communication is always a priority.
Without proper communication guidelines, it’s impossible to get expected results in teams – especially in large organizations. So, one of the main challenges of group work is to have the right communication strategies.
If COVID-19 has made you start managing a team online, it’s important to set clear communication guidelines.
- How are employees expected to communicate?
- With what tools and how?
For example, establish that Slack (Instant messaging tool) is only for quick messages but team meetings or discussions only in Zoom (Video software). Project management tools also offer advanced communication features and allow you to keep neatly organized everything project related. Also, show availability, especially if you are a manager. Your employees need to know that you are available for them in case they want to discuss something important or need help with specific tasks. If you can’t be available at certain hours, speak about it, and all employees should do the same.
2. Macro management to Improve Teamwork Effectiveness
Imagine that you have to do ten important tasks today. You pretty much need the concentration of a Yogi master to achieve all of them. But there is this mosquito almost glued in your ear – the most annoying sound ever. Impossible to get work done, right? Well, that is the description of micromanaging. Managers that like micromanaging want to force their employees to work exactly as they say. This leads to employees not wanting to share their ideas (even if they believe they are better).
Instead of wanting to check on your employee’s progress every 5 minutes, it’s good to trust that they will deliver excellent results. Being a macro manager leads to better trust and less stress in your virtual team.
But how to achieve this?
- There are a lot of management tools that help to organize projects, set tasks, and due dates. With these tools, you will be able to see how a project is progressing without even bothering employees.
- Having daily briefings to talk about what are the tasks each team member has or in case someone needs help. During these calls, team members can come up with the right solutions and help each other.
- One on one feedback is also highly beneficial. Being able to tell employees they are doing a good job, but they need to improve in certain things, helps them to grow, and have a better performance.
- Encouraging them to tell you what you need to improve, will make them feel their opinion matters and they have a voice in the company. No one is perfect; that’s why it’s important to give constructive feedback and help each member of the team grow.
In this video, I share my three tips on how to be a good remote manager.
3. Share Goals and Objectives
In a team, there are always people with different tasks, perspectives, and abilities that help them get their work done. Yet, team members must be aware of why their work is important. It’s not only about getting the job done, but they must realize that what they do is fundamental for the company. Their work is key for achieving the teams and, overall, the company’s dream goals and objectives.
One of the best strategies to encourage teamwork online is to schedule video calls, where you can create a virtual space to build these objectives and goals. Employees feel they have a space to show skills that managers didn’t even know they had. And, because sharing goals and objectives lead to improving the morale of employees, they feel more involved. Which, in the long term, leads to increased employee retention.
4. Virtual Water Coolers to Encourage Teamwork
Everyone wants to work in a company where they are comfortable and feel that their job is valuable. But one of the best feelings is when you like your coworkers as well. Research shows that people tend to stay in their jobs (even if they don’t like them) if they have a sense of being part of a community and develop close relationships with their coworkers.
But, if you don’t see them every day as you would in an office, how do you socialize with them? – With virtual water coolers.
Socialization spaces are not only for a few minutes of distraction and avoiding burnouts. They also allow employees to establish more profound relationships with each member of the team and get to know their personalities.
Being able to do group activities at a distance stimulates teamwork because, even though they are not work-related activities, they teach the importance of working with others to achieve a goal.
Lastly, never underestimate the power of recognition. Acknowledging individual and team achievements reinforces a sense of belonging and appreciation, motivating the team to strive for excellence together.
In essence, encouraging teamwork online is about cultivating an environment where communication thrives, trust is foundational, diversity is celebrated, connections are nurtured, and achievements are recognized.
As remote managers, our role is to harmonize these elements, creating a virtual workspace where everyone feels connected, engaged, and geared towards a common goal.
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