How can you make teams work effectively when not everyone is in the same location?

In this post we take a look at some of the issues and how you can maintain that all important employee engagement even when the team isn’t all under one roof.

These days it is hard to find an organisation that doesn’t have someone that spends at least some of their time working remotely, whether this is on an organisation wide basis or just the odd individual but whatever the reason you still need to find a way of making it work for all parties.

For example, earlier this year Reading Borough Council moved into new offices but there wasn’t enough space there for everyone to be in all the time and this was a deliberate move. Everyone is expected to be in the office for only four days a week and work the remaining day at home. And when people are in the office there are only “hot” not allocated desks.

Similarly here at WorkInConfidence we have a team of developers that are based off shore which means that not only are they not located with us but there is the added complication of a different timezone to deal with too. We still want these individuals to feel part of the team.

In remote working scenarios if you don’t pay close attention you can end up with poor communication, disaffected staff, low morale and lower productivity. Here are five things to consider to help avoid these issues:

  • Team communications. One thing that you want to ensure you don’t lose are the conversations between team members, even if it is only to have a “watercooler moment” discussing last night’s TV. These days there are many ways of achieving this beyond email. For more instant communications why not consider Skype, Yammer or Slack?
  • Regular group events. Nothing cements team bonding more than a night out with a chance to unwind and get to know others better. Popular with many businesses in Reading and just round the corner from RBC’s new offices is Sweeney & Todd. I have attended many team events there over the years and it is great for this.
  • Opportunities to visit the office. When I first started home working I found that I really missed the change of environment that going into an office gave me. So much so that I sought out offices to go to for a change of scene. Make sure that your remote workers have the opportunity to work from the office occasionally. Being in a different place can often stimulate thoughts that wouldn’t have arisen otherwise.
  • Ensure that company wide communications are available. Nobody wants to feel isolated from the rest of the organisation so make sure that news and information makes its way to remote workers in a timely fashion. A company intranet is a great place for this information and is possible for organisations of all sizes.
  • Meet customers. It is easy to forget when working remotely just what your objectives are. For many this will ultimately mean a delivery to clients and customers, even if this is not their direct responsibility. Make available opportunities to reinforce this goal, perhaps by getting remote workers to meet clients or to be involved in the delivery of their work in some way.

Many may have concerns about the productivity of home based workers but from my experience when I have been at home a bigger problem has been how to avoid nipping down for a crafty biscuit! Productivity was never an issue and you can ensure that’s true for your remote teams with a little thought too.