Many previously in-office team members have gone remote. Some may never return to full-time, in-office work. Both full- and part-time team members may enjoy the benefits of no commute, working from their preferred environment, having more personal time and more. But it hasn't been an easy transition for many firms.
If you're wondering how to manage and train your remote team effectively, you aren't alone. The transition to remote work has been a challenge for many firm leaders and team members alike. But you don't have to guess.
5 Signs Your Remote Team Needs Additional Training
Look for the following signs that your remote team members need more training and guidance to do their best work.
Effective communication is hard even when you're face-to-face with your team members. When your team is remote, a lack of context from body language and various technologies used to talk to other team members can make it even more challenging.
If your team struggles to communicate with each other or use their communication tools effectively, this is an important sign that they need more training on:
Effective communication techniques
Targeted training on how to use communication tools
Boundaries around how and when to use different tools
Are team members becoming siloed? Are managers and supervisors failing to push down work to staff and interns? Are staff members making a lot of mistakes because they're hesitant to ask questions? These are signs that your team is having trouble collaborating from a distance.
Set clear expectations for who does what and provide additional training for supervisors and managers on effectively delegating authority and responsibility.
If you aren't using one already, implement a project management/workflow solution to increase visibility into who is working on what and what deadlines are coming up. Being able to see information compiled in one location can help your team collaborate more effectively.
Too much working on evenings and weekends
One of the benefits of flexible work is integrating work and life and allowing people to work when and where they're most productive. But just because your team can work any time doesn't mean they should work all the time.
According to Buffer's State of Remote Report, 27% of remote team members say their biggest struggle with remote work is not being able to unplug. So if you've seen an increase in late-night or early-morning emails and people being online at all times of the day and night, your team may feel like they can't turn it off.
Provide training on the hours people need to be available and when they can wait to respond to an email or message. Set an example by not sending emails to your team on evenings and weekends or using tools that allow you to schedule communications to be sent during normal office hours.
Training people to set communication boundaries helps them learn to turn off work and enjoy their well-deserved downtime. Your team will thank you by coming to work more refreshed and better able to do their jobs.
Lack of connection
When everyone works together in the same location, it's easy to drop by another's desk and socialize for a brief period. When your team is remote, creating those casual connections is more challenging. You must be intentional about getting to know the other members of your team when you're remote. You can help people take the necessary steps with targeted training.
Encourage people to engage with each other as individuals by encouraging "water cooler chat" in Microsoft Teams or another messaging app. Schedule virtual coffee breaks or happy hours where the only rule is "no talking about work."
"Training" people to spend more time socializing might seem counterproductive, but when people feel connected to their coworkers, morale and engagement improve.
Video conferencing and regular check-ins are vital for staying connected to your virtual team members, but days of back-to-back meetings can also prevent your team from getting the focus time they need to get work done.
Some of the signs that people need more training around having efficient and effective meetings include:
People being invited to meetings they have no business attending
Scheduling meetings when an instant message would be more appropriate
Scheduling meetings for an hour when 15 minutes would suffice
Holding meetings with no agenda
Letting meetings get derailed and go off-topic
Don't pay the blame game if your remote team members are exhibiting any of these five signs. Instead, provide additional training to help them be more productive and collaborative.
Don't forget that your remote team members may have valuable insight into approaching each of these situations. Reach out to them and use their insight to enhance their remote work experiences.
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As a Project Manager for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Jacqueline plans, executes and manages the people, resources and scope of many of our firm’s projects, programs and events. Her primary focus is on managing projects for IT Consulting, Strategic Planning and Talent Consulting. In addition, Jacqueline works closely with leadership to oversee the company’s human resources by managing hiring, onboarding, training and development and overseeing our Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS). She also supports our Allyship for Diversity commitment at BCI, which seeks to strengthen diversity, equity and inclusion within Boomer Consulting and the accounting profession. Jacqueline also works on the strategy and development of our eLearning initiatives.