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5 Great Ways to Connect Distributed Teams

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As a manager, it’s difficult to strike a balance that keeps your team productive and happy one-hundred percent of the time. But it’s more important than ever for managers to keep their teams feeling connected and collaborative remotely. Making sure you are building a remote team culture is ideal to keep your employees happy from afar.  And it can be tough for teams to stay motivated when they lose face-to-face interaction.

Luckily, you can still keep your team happy and fulfilled without being at the office every day. There are plenty of platforms and web-enabled tools available that make remote collaboration feel natural and fun. A team working with tools that boost morale and make communication thrive, even when everyone’s working remotely.

There are a lot of opportunities to connect remotely to your team besides going to the office. With some creativity and a little team spirit, you can think up a nearly endless number of ways to keep your team collaborating effectively. Here are five ways to keep your team feeling connected and motivated when you’re all working from home.

Don’t Let Remote Work Stop You from Motivating Each Other

It always feels good to get a pat on the back at work. High praise from a manager amps up an employee’s self-esteem and keeps them motivated to work hard and produce results. Obviously, you can’t praise someone remotely quite the same way you can in the office. But you have many options online to put your rock star coworker in the limelight.

You’re probably familiar with popular workplace communication platforms like Skype and Slack. These tools give lots of ways to call someone out for a job well done. Add some coworkers to a group chat and have fun with emojis and GIFs. Or make dedicated channels to congratulate people for achievements.

The bottom line: you can still make people feel good for their work remotely. At the core of team spirit is the motivation to do a good job. Keep your team praise alive to remind your coworkers of what it means to be a team player, even if you’re all working remotely. A virtual pat on the back keeps bonds tight and results delivered.

Let Remote Work Make People’s Duties Clearer

There’s nothing worse than starting a job and not knowing what to do. Clear lines of communication between managers and employees make or break an understanding of responsibilities. Of course, it’s daunting to communicate tasks and duties when you’re limited to a Zoom or Skype call.

A great way to maintain a steady flow of communication is through team meetings. Schedule regular meetings once a week to make sure that everyone knows what their tasks are. Meetings also give your team time to ask questions that they’ve been keeping to themselves. Your team will feel more encouraged to speak up once people start asking questions.

Every team benefits from regular group discussions, which are hard to coordinate when everyone’s remote. Lighten the load on your team by checking in on employees and letting them ask questions. You can use voice calls, group chats, one big shared document on the cloud– whatever works best to keep everyone’s role clear.

Don’t Be Afraid to Just Say “Hello”

It’s awkward when you get your first unsolicited “Hey” over Skype or Jira. It admittedly takes some time to approach your team casually and naturally using only text. As a manager, you can make a habit of chatting random “hellos” to your members to break tension if you’re working remotely since you’ll be using text messaging more often.

You can have reasons for messaging your employees out of the blue, too. Maybe you have a recent hire about to pitch to their first prospect, and you know they’re on edge. Don’t be afraid to chat with them and remind them what they’re capable of. After all, people do their best work when they remember their past victories.

As a manager, message your employees naturally the way you would in the office. Not everyone is confident in their writing skills and may struggle to adjust to more text-based communication. But friendly, approachable chats with your employees are a great way to go the extra mile remotely.

Reward Each Other For a Job Well Done

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People love rewards a lot more than getting congratulated. You can coordinate reward systems over your communication platforms to keep your team motivated. Some healthy competition can go a long way toward boosting morale.

Get together with your team and figure out if they’re interested in competing for prizes. Obvious ones like “Most New Accounts of the Month” or other sales-driven targets come quickly to mind. But you should get creative with your team to come up with fun ways to earn rewards for quality work.

Reward systems will keep your team engaged with each other and make them feel more connected to their work. Competition forces your team to better understand their strengths and weaknesses, too. This is absolutely vital to your long-term cohesion as a functional unit.

Remember That This is a Work in Progress – Welcome The Feedback That You Get

Working on a remote basis isn’t going to go off without a hitch all the time. There are going to be kinks that you need to iron out in your processes to keep your team happy and working well. Welcome feedback as a manager and learn how to improve the way you keep everybody connected.

You need to be active when it comes to soliciting feedback. Make sure that you’re making an effort to connect with your team individually and as a group to figure out how you can improve your remote work environment. People will feel encouraged to make suggestions if they know you’re open to improving your processes.

Keep a running document of improvements and changes you’ve made along the way. You can keep this around as a sort of “evergreen” document that can give you perspective when you consider feedback. It’s also a great way to let your team know that their contributions and suggestions matter to you.

Above All, Do What’s Best For Your Team

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A team without a shared goal will struggle to stay connected virtually. The most surefire way to figure out how to improve your remote work experience is by engaging your team. Take remote work as an opportunity to strengthen the processes your team uses and the objectives you want to fulfill. You’ll find that your relationships and abilities as team players will deepen and improve as naturally as they would in the office.