The global pandemic has forced many businesses to take the leap to digital operations. Some had remote workers already, while others may have had plans to create a remote work policy. Still other business owners and HR managers have been left in the lurch as their entire workforce has shifted to work remotely.
Remote work has been on the rise for the past few years, and many employees prefer or even demand it. That doesn’t mean it comes without its challenges. Employers might worry their employees aren’t going to be as productive. Some studies have pointed out that remote workers can easily feel isolated and cut off from the rest of the team.
Use these tips to keep up morale and build team trust, even while working remotely in an uncertain environment.
Build Trust by Giving Employees Flexibility
One of the best things any employer or manager can do is take a step back and learn to trust their employees. Many find remote work challenging because they’re unsure if their employees will be productive. The risks of being distracted in a remote work setting are real, but there are also studies that show employees can be just as productive, if not more so, when they work remotely.
Employees who are given flexibility in their schedule are often more productive than those with managers who ask for strict schedule adherence, and try to micro-manage. One reason for this is that it allows your employees to choose times that work for them. If they need to work in the early morning, or late in the evening when the kids are in bed, they can do so. This boosts their productivity.
Another reason is the trust factor. When employers give their employees flexibility, they’re more motivated to show the trust is not misplaced. They’re more likely to step up to the plate, and show you just how valuable and reliable they are.
Flexibility doesn’t mean employees never need to check in with their managers or communicate with their team. Accountability is still important for building trust among remote workers. You may want to ask team members to set a schedule so others know when they’re on duty. You could ask them to log the start and end of their shifts in an app or hour-tracking software.
It’s also important for everyone to stay connected. This allows your team to communicate with each other, as well as with managers and supervisors. This can help solve problems, keep people on track, and build a sense of camaraderie for the team.
Messaging apps, group chats, and team meetings are all important ways for remote workers to stay connected.
When someone does a good job at the office or completes a tough project, you likely make sure that person feels recognized. This shouldn’t change just because you’re working remotely.
You can celebrate achievements in a few different ways. Send a note to the employee thanking them for their work, or message the group chat. You might put acknowledgments in a daily update email, or in a weekly team meeting.
You could go one step further and offer up a gift or prize for employees who are doing truly outstanding work. These rewards don’t need to be big. A gift card, or a printable certificate. is sometimes enough.
Have Some Fun as a Team
Finally, make sure you build in some time to have fun as a team. You don’t need to do formal team-building exercises, although there are plenty of digital options out there. You could host a virtual pizza party, offering each team member a chance to grab a slice from their favorite take-out or delivery spot. Then meet up online, and share conversation together.
These sorts of events can help your team keep their morale high and continue working together, even as they work in different spaces.