When the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe, many organizations shifted to a remote workplace model. Now that leaders are recovering from the most bizarre 18 months of their lives, they’re thinking about the future of the workplace. As a result of acclimating to working from home, their teams are reluctant to return to the office.
However, while the long-term answer will vary from company to company, it is certain that more organizations are adopting digital-first teams and a geographically dispersed workforce.
When many of their tried-and-true tactics become obsolete, some leaders are concerned and even terrified about how they will continue to build and lead effective teams. Over the course of my professional career, I’ve led remote, hybrid, and global teams, which means I’ve made a lot of mistakes.
The challenge of leading people in the modern workplace is as unique as any other challenge in the business world. When it comes to building remote, hybrid, and global teams, I’ve found that three general principles apply.
Communicate, Interact, Sharing
Communication is always important, regardless of the team. You’re not mistaken about that. Despite the fact that communication is essential to building a successful team, it is made both more difficult and more important when members of your team rarely interact in person. Remote work replaces office conversations, banter and overheard learning experiences with a vacuum of silence, save for chat notifications. There is no doubt that we are living in the digital age.
Decide what your message is, who should hear it, and in what order.
To overcome this, you must:
- Do the managers need to hear it first before making a decision?
- Is it a broadcast for the entire team or just one player?
- Then will it be necessary to communicate with you again in the future about any questions or concerns you may have?
To communicate your message, choose a primary medium and style but do not limit yourself to it. Beyond the usual rule of thumb about the different ways people receive information, certain types of electronic communications are easier for people to tune out. Using a primary method, followed by alternate methods, will ensure that everyone is reached (e.g., a team meeting with a follow-up email and chat message).
The fact that everyone is in the same time zone and works roughly the same hours every day is one of the major advantages of working with a local team. In addition, you can see people in front of you and determine if they are working, taking a doctor’s appointment, dropping off their children, or taking a mental health break.
This advantage disappears as your team moves digitally or globally. When working remotely, many members of your digital team travel to different countries to conserve their paid time off and reap the benefits of remote work, even if they are based in the same country. As a result, a 9 a.m. meeting is no longer 9 a.m. for everyone.
Adopt The Principle Of Equal Inconvenience When Making Decisions
An old colleague taught it to me several years ago, and it has changed the way our global team operates. No one member of the team should be expected to be solely responsible for overcoming time differences, according to the theory.
Plan meetings, conference calls, or virtual brainstorming sessions at a time that is equally inconvenient for all parties involved, including yourself. The Central and Eastern United States, as well as Trivandrum, India, are all 10 1/2 hours ahead of Central Standard Time on one of my teams. For large team meetings, we set a target time of 7 a.m. or 8 a.m. Central Standard Time.
A little earlier in CST and a little later in Trivandrum would have been preferred by the team.
Due to the fact that everyone is inconvenienced at the same time, no one member of the team feels more responsible than the others for overcoming these challenges. As a team, we must work together to overcome this obstacle.
Remain Organized, But Versatile, Throughout The Entire Process
In order to be successful and stay connected, your new digital team must be well-organized. Instead of coffee or a quick fly-by, common informal activities such as project status reports and check-ins, recognition, and feedback must now be replaced by scheduled meetings, dashboards, or templates. Be sure to set clear expectations and provide instructions on how these activities should be performed.
Slack, Asana, Workflowy, Friday, etc., are just a few examples of modern toolsets that can help you provide a consistent experience to your team members while collecting valuable information to help you lead better.
- Set expectations around when and how team members are available.
- At what times of the day should they be online?
- A non-urgent email should be answered within a reasonable amount of time.
- The maximum amount of time that they can be out of the office before they have to notify someone?
Each party benefits from avoiding unnecessary anxiety and conflict caused by mismatched expectations when these types of questions are answered in a structured way.
You must actively resist the temptation to become rigid as a result of this structure. Despite being excellent starting points, these tools, processes, and expectations shouldn’t be set in stone.
In order to accommodate their lifestyles, many team members are switching to a remote or global team. This idea, as well as their morale and desire to innovate, will be destroyed by rigidity. To achieve team goals, keep your list of hard-and-fast rules as short as possible and limited to those things that must happen.