Working with remote teams: making it work (and even fun!)

Working with remote teams is no small task. This is something we have all learned amidst the rapidly changing global pandemic. But there is something positive to be said about this transition to virtual work and how agencies can work to adapt employees and culture.

From Lessing-Flynn Vice President Jess Held’s perspective, leading remote teams requires everyone to focus and double down on the fundamentals. This includes extra attention in daily communication, accountability and focusing more than ever on protecting and enhancing the culture of your company. All seem like common sense fundamentals to take with us from the office into our remote space. However, simple adjustments (and a bit of fun) can make the transition to remote work even more seamless.

Over-communication = high-functioning teams

While communication is of utmost importance for the success of any high-functioning team, it becomes even more critical when working with remote employees. Not only is frequent communication important in meetings, defining expectations and action items, it is also extremely important in reaching out to team members on a regular, candid basis. According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, 46% of remote team members said the best managers were those who “checked in frequently and regularly.” As the article’s authors wrote: “The most successful managers are good listeners, communicate trust and respect, inquire about workload and progress without micromanaging, and err on the side of over-communicating.”

Tip: Research mental health wellness apps for employees. At Lessing-Flynn, we’ve been using Donut.

Virtual distance and accountability

When you’re working with remote teams, It’s important that everyone on the team recognizes and understands their responsibilities. Just as it was when they were in the office, their actions impact the rest of the team if not completed. Being clear about expectations is mandatory. Employees, in general, are happier when they feel they are a productive contributor to the team and living up to expectations. Don’t leave each other in the dark about projects, deliverables, and deadlines.

Tip: Set up collaborative project trackers (we love Google Sheets) and give clear deadlines to team members when to update.

Be mindful of “virtual distance,” an emotional detachment that builds over time when people rely on technology for their primary communication and to mediate their relationships. According to data from the Virtual Distance Institute, the greater the virtual distance, the higher the negative impact on the team in terms of innovation effectiveness, trust, work satisfaction, role and goal clarity, and project success.

Power up your culture

Culture is key to keeping employees engaged which can lead to improved retention results. Find unique and entertaining ways to connect, celebrate achievements and lighten up the workday when working with remote teams. Even small initiatives go a long way to improve virtual distance. Meeting via video conference for lunch-and-learns or happy hours can liven up the week and encourage fun interactions.

At LF, we use Slack to share the latest marketing news and industry trends for our clients. We also celebrate birthdays, work anniversaries and host mini “contests” for ongoing engagement.

Need some inspiration? Consider hosting a competition amongst remote team members. Check our very own FlynnieIdol!

Design unique, custom Zoom backgrounds for your team (and clients, of course!). Here’s our favorite backgrounds — created for our client, Champion Seed.

People on a video call with branded backgrounds

The most important thing is to focus on establishing a framework. Use the tools people need to connect and engage with each other — especially through video conferences where people can be face-to-face.

Working with remote teams and staying true to your mission and values

The way we work together on a day-to-day basis has changed dramatically. What hasn’t changed is our mission and core values.

Remember your why.

Now is a good time to reinforce that with your team. Why are we here? What do we stand for? What are the promises we make our customers and how do we keep them? Rally your team together and remind them of this at this time.

Even remotely, we are all still on the same team working with a unified purpose. Small infusions of your mission and values go a long way!

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