Relationships are often built from a unique recipe — time, proximity, and shared experiences. When your team members aren’t physically together, and possibly even countries apart, how can you facilitate the camaraderie that often comes with in-person work? If you want your fully remote team to do its best work, you’ll need to boost morale. While you may not be physically near one another, you can simulate similar experiences to achieve the same end goal.
Check out these seven tips to help you foster high morale among your fully remote team. When team members work together in concert, they can achieve goals beyond your wildest imagination.
1. Develop Clear Communication Guidelines
Your team may be old pros at working remotely, new to the whole concept, or somewhere in between. No matter their experience with remote work, it’s essential to develop clear communication guidelines for remote teams, especially if you have an international workforce. Doing so will prevent crossed wires, overstepping boundaries, and promote collaboration.
Identify the different ways team members should communicate with one another in different circumstances. Do they need a quick answer to a time-sensitive question? If so, they can use Slack, Google Chat, or another instant messaging platform. Can the question wait until morning, or is the response likely to get disseminated or archived? Then email might be preferable.
That said, many teams today are abandoning email altogether in favor of project management tools like Monday, Asana, or ClickUp. These solutions let teams centralize communication regarding project tasks and statuses, facilitating handoffs with automated notifications. When weighing your choice of collaboration tool, consider your organization’s needs and existing team culture before deploying something new.
2. Encourage Candid Conversations, No Matter the Seniority Level
Issues that linger fester. Encourage candid conversations among your team, no matter the seniority level or work location. Technology and new skill sets today often break down barriers between the typical age-based seniority cohorts. However, conversations between generations can be difficult, based on differing social etiquette from their formative years.
Coach your team on candid conversation best practices. Start with a non-threatening opener like, “I’d like to chat with you about something.” Then, concisely identify the issue at hand. Steer clear of placing blame or assuming ill intent, instead using “I feel” phrases to express your concerns. When candid discussion is the norm, issues can be addressed in real time, and your team can get back to business.
3. Recognize Good Work Early and Often
Everyone likes feedback, especially positive feedback. Boost your remote team’s morale by acknowledging good work as you see it. Don’t wait until the end of a project when all the metrics are in before you recognize the team. Small wins matter, too. Shout out achievements during team meetings or via a #newandgood channel on your messaging platform to encourage peer recognition.
If your organization is able to, reward your remote employees with more than just verbal praise. If their work fits the criteria for a financial reward, use that tool as often as you can. Many times, organizations underutilize their financial reward capabilities, even though the money is budgeted for it. Recognize your employees as they do good work, and it will incite higher performance and job satisfaction.
4. Offer Collaboration Opportunities Across Experience Levels
While pay and benefits are great and arguably essential, there’s more to creating a great work culture. Much of morale has to do with feeling capable and empowered in your role. To enable that empowerment, provide collaboration opportunities across experience levels for your remote team.
When your team collaborates on projects consisting of both senior and junior employees, knowledge can be transferred between colleagues. A broad perspective will improve your project’s quality and may identify issues a less diverse team could miss. These opportunities also allow for shared experiences over a period of time, which can build relationships to your remote team’s advantage.
5. Provide Structured Onboarding and Ongoing Training to All Team Members
We’ve all been in a new job where the training experience is nonexistent. Usually, this results in employees just absorbing what their colleagues are doing, which may or may not be correct. Furthermore, a remote team will have few opportunities for even this “osmosis” process to occur. That’s why you must provide consistent and structured onboarding and ongoing training to all team members.
Teams will start out on the right foot and understand the policies, procedures, and expectations of their role. By continuing training beyond the probation period, your team will feel supported as they develop in their careers. Training opportunities may also uncover new skill sets or organizational needs that your team can fill from within. When you support your employees as their career develops, they’re apt to reward you with great work and loyalty.
6. Keep Your Vision and Mission at the Forefront
Work may be essential to keeping a roof over our heads, but often what truly drives us is our “why.” Ask yourself why your organization exists, why your offering is important, and why you are there to serve your customers. Integrate your vision and mission into your daily conversations with your remote team. Design solutions for your customers and speak of them as partners.
Kick off each virtual meeting with a refresher on your purpose. Apply that purpose to what you’re meeting about and how this particular project will drive your mission forward. When your remote team members band together around a shared vision, they’ll be more committed to their roles and one another.
7. Help Your Remote Team Members Feel Together, Even When They’re Apart
After-work cocktails and social events may sound great on paper, but they often cut into family and leisure time. As you manage your remote team, fit in time for social gatherings during the workday. Devoting time for team building during working hours is respectful of your colleagues’ personal time and can boost morale. When your team feels respected, they’ll return the favor.
Simulate the magic of post-work drinks by organizing an online social meeting during the last hour of the day. Lead the group in a trivia game, moderate a Q&A session, or just keep it casual. Encourage your team to bring their pets or kids to the gathering. Doing so can allow team members to get to know each other better.
A high-performing team doesn’t just exist in the office — the massive shift to remote and hybrid teams today has proven it. To maintain morale, keep the human element of your employees at the forefront. Support them as they do great work for your organization, and they’ll work at their highest and best potential.