Team members work remotely for a number of reasons: an evolving industry, more flexibility in how work gets done, a desire to retain a valuable employee whose life is taking them to a new location. Whatever the reason, once you’ve made the plunge into any level of remote working, the best thing you can do is put yourself and your team in a position to be successful. It’s not always easy – a shift to remote teaming is a change, and change brings challenges – but here are three actions you can take to help your team succeed in the new normal.
Buy-in: Once you commit, truly believe that allowing remote working is in the best interest of your team. This is first on the list because it can be difficult, but it's perhaps the most important. Allowing for remote teaming may not have been your idea or even your preference. You may have even opposed it. Even if you are in favor of it, there will be moments when you approach Tom’s desk, as you always do, with a question about the travel budget, only to remember he’s working from his home 45 minutes away. Regardless of the circumstances, the decision to allow for remote teaming was made for a reason, so find the parts that work and focus on those. As with any change, your team will be getting their cues from you. Believe in what works and your team will believe in it too.
Vocal Support: Be a loud and explicit supporter of remote teaming in public forums. In weekly meetings, one-on-ones, and team-wide emails, let your team know you support the remote initiative, and let them know often. You don’t want ambiguity. Your team has made the change, and for it to work you need all parts synchronized and with the same idea of best practices in mind. This starts with you verbalizing your support.
Modeling: Show, act, and behave how you hope your team will. If you decided to allow for remote teaming so people could have more personal time during the week, put on your shared calendar that you are busy Thursday from 2:00-4:00 at your son’s recital practice. If the decision was about retaining a key member of your team who moved away, but whom you want to still be involved in decision making, add a remote option, like Google Hangouts or GoToMeeting, to all your meeting invitations.
It starts with you. No matter how you came to the decision, once it’s made you need to embrace remote teaming to give your group the best chance of success. Model how you’re hoping your team will work going forward, and tell your team that you support the new work environment. There will be bumps along the way, but by being clear, focused, and vocal, you can make the transition as smooth as possible for everyone, no matter where they are.