By Fiona Adler
I assume you know enough about remote work teams – the challenges, systems, tools, and more. But luckily that doesn’t apply to your in-house team — right? Wrong.
Remote working teams may be leading the way, but almost all teams need to learn to work together remotely. Even if you’re not hiring contractors in some far away country, your own team will benefit from the learnings we can take from remote teams.
Here’s why remote working styles are just as important for in-house teams.
In a sense, all teams are remote
Are you sitting next to all of your colleagues? Do you physically meet with your team several times a day? Yes, there are some situations where this does happen — my consulting days come to mind when an entire team would be sitting in a board room and working on top of each other all day and night! But for the most part, we’re largely separated from the people we work with.
Whether our colleagues are in another country or just down the hall, they’re not right with us so we need ways of working together online. The same systems and structures we need to work with an employee across the world will help up work with our team members sitting on another floor or in another office.
Embracing remote work keeps existing employees happy
If they haven’t already, it probably won’t be long before your team members start asking whether they can work from home. This is not something to dread or avoid! In fact, research shows that employees that work from home are happier and ‘massively more productive’ and companies that offer working from home options can reduce attrition by up to 50%.
If working from home seems scary, don’t worry — you don’t necessarily need to dive into a full-time working-from-home arrangement. A policy where employees can work from home one or two days a week often gives your team the flexibility they’re craving and keeps your company competitive.
Remote working styles help you focus on real productivity
Leaders are often reluctant to encourage working-from-home as they worry they won’t know whether the team is working productively. However, this is backwards thinking.
If you can’t tell whether people working remotely are being productive, it really indicates that you can’t track productivity, period. Even though seeing someone physically sitting at their desk might provide us with some comfort, it is no way to measure productivity!
Of course, productivity is often not easy to measure, and it varies greatly depending on the type of work your team performs. But it’s alway worthwhile to put systems in place that get your team focused on their productivity.
Thinking of your team as a remote team is a great way to instigate a new approach like this. Productivity tracking also doesn’t need to be as complex as you might think. For instance, it could include simple team disciplines like:
- Holding a 10 minute start-of-day call to share each person’s plan for the day
- A structure where everyone sends an end-of-day email to share what they’ve accomplished
- A weekly share-your-work demonstration where the team takes turns to showcase something they’re working on and seek feedback from the team
Putting these types of structures in place is gets your team ready to work remotely but more importantly, improves team performance.
A remote working capability allows you to build a better team
Once you’ve got your existing team working well using remote team systems, you can use your these capabilities to attract new team members. This can be simply promoting the flexibility you now offer with working-from-home arrangements. Or, you could even go as far as to make the role available to candidates located in other areas entirely.
After all, why should you restrict your search to only those candidates that are available now within a 30 mile radius?
By broadening the talent pool, you can often attract someone of a much higher calibre. For businesses located in small towns or in areas that have a lot of competition for top talent, offering a remote position can give you a huge advantage.
Start building your remote working capability
Working with a distributed team has its challenges, but these also force disciplines that are beneficial to all teams. Creating a framework for teamwork online, before you actually need go remote, is a wise step for all teams to take.
Plus, learning to manage a team online is a skill all managers need to learn and embrace – whether that’s to increase the performance of your existing team or to prepare for pending remote work.
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