News

How to build a strong "work from home" team culture

Author

Prodec

Date

01 Oct, 2020

Category

Blog

How to build a strong working from home team culture

As the dust settles after the UK Government’s announcement on 22 September that people should again work from home, where possible, employers and employees must get to grips with what will now be the new normal for many more months to come. So, how do you make the most of this and ensure that your remote-working team culture is just as strong, if not more so, as any office-based team ever was? 

In reality, with the impressive tech tools now at our fingertips, there is no reason to fear the prospect of a long-haul, or even permanent, move to your team working remotely. This need not necessarily be a working winter of discontent, but the moment the world wakes up to a more efficient way of conducting business.  

Indeed, a recent poll of 1,000 employers found that an increasing number of bosses believe remote working will definitely save them moneyIn fact, as a recent study found that remote workers took shorter breaks than their office-based counterparts and worked an average of 1.4 days more per monthyour business productivity could also be set to soarAs Peter Cheese, head of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), put it, “We’re at a moment of real change in the world of workbut although change can initially be scary, it is just a matter of adapting to the new normal. So, companies that rise to the challenge and put in place the procedures and products to empower their workforce to excel in this brave new business world will be more resilient to any future crises and set to thrive. 

Communication is key 

Whether working from home or office based, what is undoubtedly key for a strong team culture, is great communication and collaboration. While the days of dropping in at a colleague’s desk for a quick chat, or exchanging quips at the coffee machine may be on hold for the moment, a geographically distributed workforce need not be an obstacle to your team working collaboratively and closely. With a plethora of top team collaboration tools available, you can keep the channels of communication wide open. At the roots of a strong team culture is great working relationships between team members, open communication between employers and workers, and clear team goals, all of which can be established and maintained via regular and consistent use of such team collaboration software. In fact, tech such as Microsoft Teams, RingCentral, Avaya Cloud Office and Zoom, also known as unified communication and collaboration (UC&C) toolsprovide the means for effortless team and business-to-business collaboration. In addition, in this new world of Covid, while a business trip to meet your prospects is impractical, reliable, high quality video conferencing platforms are invaluable. 

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Get to know your workforce 

With the essential collaboration platforms in place, it is important to use these to get to know your workforce as individualsto build a strong remote team culture. By taking the time to learn about your people, you can ensure that you get the best out of each and every one. It is true to say that, in team management, one size does not fit all. Only by getting to know individual team members can you gain a good understanding of how much support they might need. Some may be more introverted than others, working away behind the scenes but not openly talking unless encouraged to do so. Others may be more extroverted, acting as if there are no issues when underneath they have concerns simmering away that need to be addressed. A regular, scheduled one-to-one conversation with everyone will help to build mutual understanding, ensuring that all team members remain engaged and know exactly what is expected of themSuch open and honest communication will also help to build trust, which is essential for good teamwork. Trust between colleagues will encourage open feedback, which will ensure that you keep in touch with any issues you need to addressreassure employees that any concerns they have will be dealt with, and also reduce any need to use such tools as employee-monitoring technology to check up on team members.  

Remember to have fun 

In the drive to reach targets and boost productivity, don’t be tempted to lose sight of the human element of your team. Although you may now be largely communicating with others via technology, it is vital to keep sight of the fact that those you are speaking to are not machines and if you want to get the best out of them, they will need to be motivated. While a trip to the pub or a day out paintballing as a team-building exercise might be off the cards at the moment, it is important to remember to still have fun, especially in these challenging times. So, why not use your available technology to build team spirit and encourage a strong sense of community? You may need to get inventive, but, for example, you can encourage team members to discuss their plans for the weekend at team meetings, talk about what’s happening at home on group chat forums, and celebrate any wins by giving praise via video conference, or even get team members to give virtual tours of their own remote working locations. The deeper bonds this will form will bring team members together and help them to work harder for common goals. After all, as the old adage goes, ‘All work and no play…’.

While the coronavirus crisis has forced a quick change to the way we work, in the long term, the workplace may continue to evolve to a combination of the old and the new, in the shape of a more hybrid working model. In practice, this could mean that in a post-pandemic world we may be looking at people splitting their time between working from home and commuting to the office when required. However, by then, savvy businesses will be well prepared for anything the world throws at them, with all the tools in place to operate securely in person and online. 

So, to meet the future head-on, contact Prodec Networks' dedicated team of remote work experts, who can help prepare your business to be more adaptable, resilient and successful in this new, changed world.

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