Businessman assembling jigsaw puzzle human team employee

Recovery Playbook

your talent challenges have changed

2020 has forced every business to rethink Talent. Talencity’s Talent Recovery Playbook is a resource guide to you in pivoting, shifting or re-inventing your talent strategy.

Each week for 12-weeks, a new resource will be launched.

Highly Effective Remote Teams

Maximizing the effectiveness of your remote/hybrid teams is vital to your organization’s success, as remote work is here to stay.

Remote work has seen a major growth of 91% over the past twelve years 1. Remote employees tend to be happier, more productive, and find better work/life balance. Companies are also reaping benefits from cost savings to attaining and attracting top talent 2.

The global pandemic has certainly accelerated the move to remote work. Despite the eased restrictions and re-opening of the economy, only one-fifth of Canadians are willing to return to the workplace as soon as they are allowed 3. Businesses and leaders have to come to terms that most or all of your people will be working remotely. Ensuring your fully remote or hybrid teams working most efficiently and effectively will be key to both the success of your organization and employees’ engagement.

Growth in Remote work since 2012 – 44%
Growth in Remote work since 2007 – 91%
Growth in Remote work since 2005 – 159%

Set your Talent up for Success

Giving your team the right resources means providing them not just the tools, but also the skills they need to work successfully. This goes beyond giving them a laptop and Internet access. Collaboration tools are essential as team members are no longer physically in the office.

Working remotely eliminates the ability for coworkers to stop by each other’s desks informally to discuss ideas and share updates. Remote workers need access to tools that allow them to collaborate, brainstorm, and manage projects. With the right tools, ideas and updates sharing should be as seamless as when co-located in the office. Adequate training for these tools will also optimize team work.

While tools and hard skills are essential, you cannot forget to provide resources to strengthen your team’s soft skills. Remember, the global pandemic has created a sense of isolation, additional stress and dismantled daily routines. With that in mind, don’t forget to arm your team with the important soft skills such as empathy and resilience. Everyone has a different at-home situation, which means caring about your team’s well-being is crucial for effective remote work.

As the leader, lead by example by using the optimal tool for various activities. Your team will follow suit.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Clear and transparent communication is a part of any successful team. Communication becomes even more important for remote teams.

For many employees, a physical office location is more than a building with four walls where they get work done. The office was once a part of your team’s social connection and personal identity. Commuting to the same place five times a week and working with the same group of people creates a greater sense of purpose. Additional communication effort is required for remote teams to close this gap.

Communication creates trust and overall employee engagement. As a leader, you should continue to reinforce how each team member contributes to the overall organizational objectives. Have daily check-ins for 5-10 minutes with each of your team members to ensure they have everything they need to succeed in getting their job done. Consistent communication will make your team more efficient and help it stay aligned 4.

Remember, human connection is an instinctual need that every person craves. While physical, face-to-face interactions are not possible at the moment, it is possible to replicate positive feelings associated with social interactions. Try creating a social channel exclusively for team building and bonding. This social channel needs to be separate from work-related chats, and the team can get creative with the activities and content. For example, the team can engage in remote activities such as virtual tours of their at home workspace, games and trivia, or a simple coffee social where everyone discusses their weekend plans.

Focus on Outcome, not the Activity.

Be human and have empathy. The line between work and home is more permeable when working from home. Many employees now have household responsibilities during office hours, especially during the summer and those with school-aged children. Recognize that they are now working alongside other family members who are working or learning from home as well. As a leader, be cognizant that different team members will adjust to working remotely differently and have different home situations.

Be understanding and flexible. Give your team the flexibility to get work done at their own pace but be firm and clear on deadlines and expectations. Time-shifting is a necessity for making remote teams successful. Results based management is thus the best way to continue to keep employee morale and engagement. When your team feels trusted, it empowers them to do their best work while strengthening the alignment between individual goals to organizational goals.

Lead differently in this different world

The “new normal” calls for a new form of leadership. Recognize that the last few months have been an abrupt change for everyone. Sudden change can be scary. When you no longer share an office, how do you stay connected with the team and motivate individuals without being able to walk around and interact with each other?

Focus on clarity.
With the drastic change in business environment, new and measurable metrics of success will need to be created, shared and agreed upon. Leaders must actively practice empathy and be even more cognizant of individual’s needs and differences, and your team will thrive. Be tolerant and encouraging. After all, we are still all relatively new at this.

Continue coaching and mentoring
– both formally and informally. Informal coaching and mentoring could be as simple as a word of encouragement during daily check-ins. Giving a team member a positive reinforcement by saying something as small as, “Yesterday you handled that situation really well” can make a big difference over time. Formal coaching and mentoring should still be a top priority. Set up regular mentoring sessions at least once every two weeks. Recurring mentoring sessions allow you to empower employees by providing constructive feedback and practical advice; and more importantly, allowing them to continue to grow and develop along their career.

Acknowledge difficult times
– not just for your business, but for everyone. Demonstrate resilience so your team can follow and stay positive. Lead with both your heart and your head. Be transparent about current realities, even admitting to things you don’t know. Recovery is a process. Keep your end goals in mind and reinforce them often.

Shift from reactive to anticipative
– on how to reinvent the team and the organization to seize recovery opportunities. As Winston Churchill once said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Take advantage of this by adapting, changing, and learning new ways to lead and build a stronger and more resilient team and organization.

Final Thought

We have to embrace the notion that remote and/or hybrid teams will be part of the future of work. Many studies suggest that the desire to at least continue working remotely part of the week post-Covid exists. In fact, nearly half of the working adults are even willing to take pay cuts from their salary for more flexibility 5. The best estimate from the Global Workplace Analytics shows that 25-30% of the workforce will continue working at home on a multiple-day-a-week basis by the end of 2021 6.

Remote teams have many benefits – from corporate savings in real estate, to higher productivity, to talent attraction and retention. The key is to ensure that your team has the resources to make it successful while keeping up communication, trust level, and engagement. Adapt your performance management philosophy and leadership style to reap these benefits from remote teams fully!