I love remote work! The fact that I can talk with a team member or client, all while getting my laundry done, makes me so happy. The fact that I can run downstairs and pet my dog or step into my backyard in the middle of my workday is just the best.
Remote work does come with limitations. I am a big believer in the value of relationships. There are few problems you face as a business owner or sales professional that can’t be solved by engaging or talking with someone.
Let’s face it – working to keep your virtual team engaged can be a big challenge. We need connection.
And as valuable as being together in an office is and can be to the growth and health of your organization, I think we need to accept that those days are, for the most part, over. At best, we will get people to come in a few days a month or, if you’re lucky, a week. But with the heavy traffic that causes long commutes, the need for work-life balance, and the rising cost of gasoline, I think we must embrace that, for the most part working remotely is the world we live in now.
But having a remote team does not mean you have to give up having an engaged team. In fact, as a leader, if you are open to embracing doing things a little differently and upping your skills, I think you can probably build a team as strongly connected as when you were in person.
Here are three strategies to keep your virtual team engaged and keep them on the edge of their seats.
1. Give Them A Role – every member of your team needs a role, something they are responsible for as it relates to the team. People are never as engaged as when they are responsible for something.
So think about it. Who on your team could take on the role of calling the monthly meetings and getting everyone to attend? Who needs to be the one in charge of the monthly social? Who plans the agendas and works with you to ensure that the team is focused? Who is the “mother hen” of the group and keeps you updated on birthdays, anniversaries, etc.?
Oh, you thought those were your jobs as the leader? Well, think again. Because if you want your team to engage, they need a job, and they need to be responsible for the engagement level of this team.
2. Purpose Drives Passion – now, your role as the leader is to keep the purpose front and center. Purpose drives passion, and passion drives engagement. To engage, people need more than a job; they need to be doing work that matters, feel like they are making a difference, and feel like they are part of a team.
So as the leader, you need to clearly define the purpose first. For example, if you are in financial services, remind your team that they are helping people with some of the most important decisions of their lives, and other than their children, there is very little people care about more than their money. Then help your team members see how their job makes a difference in that purpose. How does what they do help customers achieve their dreams?
As the leader, always remember that purpose drives passion, and passion drives engagement.
3. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff – don’t be that leader who monitors the computer to see when people are working. Don’t freak out if, at 2 p.m., a team member takes a break because their daughter comes home from school.
When our work became remote, the boundaries of working hours changed. People work on and off all day long and night, for that matter. So as a leader, focus on the job you need to get done and less on when and how your team is doing it.
Today’s employees value the flexibility of remote work and the work-life balance it brings. So trust your employees, and they will repay you tenfold with a high level of engagement and a high level of work.
Yes, this is a new frontier, and while we may long for the good ole days, I think we need to accept they are gone for now, if not forever. But it does not mean as a leader; you have to give up engagement. Put these strategies into place and watch your team increase their engagement, their passion, and their results.