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Keeping a team together in a remote work environment

Essential tips for remote worker cohesion

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As an addition to my recent article “what I learned at Byatgig,” I thought about producing one aimed at online environments. Specifically, team building and unity in a remote situation, since that’s what we are at Bytagig. In a traditional office environment (or similar), management and staff have the advantage of physical proximity. It’s a lot easier to emphasize “team mechanics” that way. Now, that isn’t to suggest it was better. If the Great Resignation showed anything, people realized their previous work conditions were less than satisfactory, and I’m putting that in the nicest of ways.

More to the point though, community management is critical. Making your staff feel important to the business model is critical for both production and staff retention. People need to feel appreciated and that their work has value (which it does). Though, as you can imagine, doing so in a remote environment is much harder. Even with friendly compliments through messaging and emails, the effect isn’t the same. Truthfully, there is no exact substitute for team building in physical proximity. However, there are things you can absolutely do for team building.

It starts with the messaging platform

So, this is similar to “what I learned with Bytagig,” as we use our own system for discussion, management, and team building. But it all starts with how we do it. By now, your SMB likely uses a type of communication platform to conduct work. In our case, we use Slack. It works for our needs since we can share messages and target specific goals within the platform; in other words, contact specific people when x job needs to be done by y time.

Nowadays, plenty of messaging and work organization platforms exist. With the rise and prevalence of remote working, such management tools became a necessity, so your options for them are expansive. But how does that incorporate team building? Sharing project goals, files, and schedules is one thing. Team management is another.

In truth, it depends on the enterprise. In Bytagig, we have multiple channels for casual discussion, and small tokens like that help the environment feel both professional and casual. People aren’t robots, and not everyone wants to talk like worker drones. That level of friendliness is a key part of team structuring, the idea that your coworkers are not just there for the job, but can be friends too (or polite acquaintances at the very least).

So, the first takeaway is thus: use your communication platforms to create a sense of friendliness, team building, and a positive/supportive environment.

A thanks can go a long way

I can’t emphasize enough but thank your workforce, in the big and small ways both. People want and need to feel their tasks, efforts, and commitment to the company are worth something (which they should be).

But the reason acknowledgment is so critical in online spaces, especially remote work environments, is that one can feel “invisible,” even if that’s not the case. In a traditional office, stopping by and saying “hey nice work” is a simple thing, but can be forgotten in online spaces. There’s less sense of acknowledgment which can feel like one is ignored or underappreciated.

So once again, in your communication space, it’s good to have ways to both thank and appreciate workers. But wait, there’s more! Now, I can’t let you get off without thanking them in substantial ways either. Increased wages, time off, and/or otherwise meaningful, valuable demonstrations of appreciation will go far. Yes, being thanked is great. Getting a bonus or a paid day off or even an unexpected raise is better. Obviously, working within your budget is important, but there’s a reason the Great Resignation made people realize their places of work didn’t appreciate them enough, if at all.

Organization

Team building also needs to feel organized, with goals in mind and schedules to keep. Without it, a lack of cohesion forms. Is x getting done? Did y get worked on? What about z that was mentioned a week ago?

Ideally, all these hypothetical work tasks should have completion dates, people tagged to work on them, and delivery timeframes. In remote settings, though, it’s easier to forget or lose track of what’s going on. To no one’s fault, online environments can feel “abstract” at best. Without consistent direction, tasks getting lost in the digital mire is easier than you think. If that happens, the sense of teamwork quickly dissolves, and it can seem like workers are only responsible for their individual tasks.

So, much like any project, making sure staff are keyed in on tasks helps bring together a roundtable focus. It seems minor, but it’s still very important.

Think of the advice in this article like three pillars. Team management and focus on remote environments will provide challenges no matter what. Still, there are foundational elements you can always establish to help smooth things along.

-Douglas James

If you’d like additional help or tips for team management (or other IT support), you can contact Bytagig today.

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