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Entering 2022 With a Happy and Positive Remote Team

Written by on January 24, 2022

As we move further into the future, more and more businesses are managing their teams remotely. The world is opening back up, but if you’re thinking of keeping your team remote, you’re not alone. This can be a great way to save on office space and to allow employees the flexibility to work from home.

However, it can also be difficult to keep remote teams happy and productive. In this article, we will discuss some tips for managing remote teams, including virtual activities that can help improve productivity and communication. We will also look at some trends that we can expect in 2022 when it comes to managing remote teams.

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Reasons To Stay Remote in 2022

Many organisations have already started to explore working remotely even before the COVID-19 pandemic. But during the worldwide lockdowns, around 80% of global corporate remote work policies have shifted to virtual and mixed forms of team collaboration. With so many people being forced to work from home, remote work has gone from being a perk to a necessity.

But it’s 2022 and the world is moving forward and opening up. Does it still make sense to stay remote? Many organisations think so: 64% believe that virtual team setups will continue to be in place in businesses around the world.

Thanks to businesses having more and more software tools to work with, even teams who’ve experienced delays and mishaps while moving to remote work have smoothed out many concerns. Many employees are beginning to expect remote work perks as a rule, and this won’t change in 2022. If you haven’t yet added remote teams to your business plan for 2022, it’s time to take a closer look at this movement.

Keeping Your Team Happy and Productive

If you’re sticking to remote work in 2022, what can you do to keep your team happy?

Chances are, you’ve got team members in various buckets: those who enjoy and prefer remote work, those who have adapted well to the new policies, and those who have resisted the changes up to now and look forward to the day when they can work from the office again.

Keep your remote team happy and productive. Photo by Sigmund
Keep your remote team happy and productive. Photo by Sigmund

How can you keep them all happy? We’ve got some helpful tips.

  • Check in with individual team members regularly. It’s easy to assume that they’re doing well, especially if you’re chatting with them about work every day and they are getting work done as always. But don’t wait until their work has suffered before getting them on a one-on-one call. On a catch-up call, you can find out how they’re doing with the work and the remote setup, so you can catch challenges early before it becomes a problem. Make sure to ask them how they’re doing with remote work, what their pain points are, and if they have any ideas on how to make their tasks easier to accomplish.
  • Be their support and manager. Don’t get lax just because you don’t see them: they deserve to have someone looking out for them (but not breathing over their shoulder). If anything, you need to be more visible in their work life, showing them that you are invested in their career growth and you’re there to help them grab opportunities they’re interested in. This isn’t a “phase” or a “hurdle” to get through: we’re in this for the long haul, so let’s make sure we’re still setting them up for success.
  • Be generous when you can. When your team feels that you have their best interests at heart, they’re happier and more motivated. When you chat with them, keep an eye out for opportunities where you (or the company) can be generous with them. If they ask for a raise and they deserve more, don’t be stingy. If they’ve been working really hard on a project, give them an extra day off.
  • Start team meetings hot with icebreakers. No matter the virtual meeting, people can be reticent when it comes to voicing out on a call. Get people ready with some easy virtual icebreakers and questions that they don’t have to think too hard about, such as what they had for breakfast, a favorite drink or vacation spot, or to show the rest their go-to coffee mug.
  • Minimize large calls and use breakout rooms when possible. With large calls, no matter how motivated your team may be, you’ll find some folks preferring to just listen in the background while they do other things. To keep people engaged, use smaller breakout rooms where they feel the value of being heard and they can ask questions when they need to.
  • Team building activities are as important as ever. Maybe even more so than before! When your team used to have a small chat by the water cooler, or over their desks, a remote setup doesn’t help build day-to-day camaraderie. Thankfully, team building activities don’t have to be a big shebang, with months in planning and a big budget. Look at incorporating activities into your meetings such as casual online games that have become popular with the lockdowns. Build virtual water coolers to help your team gel together.
  • Keep note of small, personal events. When you’re not in the same location as other people, it’s easy to overlook small personal events like birthdays, anniversaries, and the like. While many people won’t really think too badly of this, it can take a toll on your team’s morale and happiness. Make sure you celebrate the small things by recognizing personal events with the rest of the team. Send them a cake or small token, or have a short virtual party just to mark the occasion.
  • Make short videos for your team. You know how everyone’s into Stories and TikTok these days? While you don’t need to bust out some dance moves, you can jump on this bandwagon and make fun little videos for your team to say hi, or to get to know each other better, or to highlight small team wins. This can be better for folks who don’t like being disturbed by a meeting in the middle of a task: they can get to the video later when they have the time, but still feel connected to you and the rest of the team.

Expanding Your Team

You already know by now that your business needs to keep growing, and your team will change and expand over time. There’s always a challenge when you add someone new on the team, especially now.

How can you help your bigger, better team work well together? Getting the new team member integrated into your team doesn’t have to be rocket science.

Introduce them to the rest of the team well.

Don’t just rattle off their job description and achievements when you introduce them to your team. Share how their work can help make things easier for the rest of the team. If they’re going to work with someone else on the team, you can help expectations by sharing how they can work together on a specific task.

Ice breaker questions for virtual meetings, which we shared in a tip above, is also a great way to help the new team member feel more at ease with the rest quickly.

Make sure they are completely set up from day one.

It might be a challenge to get all their remote work equipment ready by day one, but it’s important! You might even delay their first day just to make sure they have everything they need.

While it’s a no-brainer that they need tools to work with before they can be productive, not having the right tools can just frustrate them and make them feel that they weren’t a priority for the team after all. Their fellow team mates may also feel the challenge of having to work with someone who doesn’t have the right tools, and can block tasks from getting done.

Keep excitement and morale high for the new team member by making sure they have everything they need to succeed.

Help them make connections.

It’s difficult being the “odd one out” in a new team. No matter how capable they are, many new employees feel impostor syndrome when they’re starting out, especially in a remote setup when they can’t see other people.

Help them get connected to the rest of the team by getting someone to mentor them or show them around. Don’t just pick someone who’s been on the team the longest, or at random. The best match would be someone friendly, but is also capable of showing the new person the ropes: who to talk to, where to get help, and how to get things done.

Having small team building activities with the new person will also help a lot. Casual online games, ice breakers, casual chat rooms or chat threads can help new folks feel more at home faster, than just leaving them to their own devices.

Help get new team members set up with a great mentor. Photo by Chris Liverani
Help get new team members set up with a great mentor. Photo by Chris Liverani

Remote Teams in 2022 and Beyond

But what can you expect for remote teams in 2022? What do you need to plan for? We’ve got the lowdown on five trends you should keep an eye on:

  1. Your IT will continue to play a big part. Over the pandemic, IT workloads have increased. Even after initial digital setups to cater to remote work, the work hasn’t slowed down, especially with the speed at which better and better solutions become available when it comes to getting things done remotely. Don’t be stingy with your IT personnel!
  2. The number of remote workers will continue to increase. The number of people working remotely have steadily been increasing since 2005. The pandemic is an obvious reason for a sudden boom, but even two years on, more people expect remote work perks, and more companies are planning to stay fully remote, or a hybrid. This means that remote work is here to stay.
  3. Employees value the ability to work remotely as a perk. Many employees are seeing the value of remote work in terms of better work-life balance, better retention, productivity improvements, and saving both companies and individuals time and money. A company that makes sure they address these shifting expectations will manage their teams better as well.
  4. Coworking spaces are becoming more popular. Virtual teams can work anywhere they want. While most work from home (84%), some do work out of coffee shops and coworking spaces if these offer the amenities they need. Team members enjoy the flexibility of choosing where to work, depending on their needs.
  5. Cybersecurity will be even more important. Perhaps not surprisingly, with the sudden rise of remote work setups, there are more risks for businesses who cannot standardise security policies across all their remote teams. But there is a steady rise of hacking and security breaches even before the pandemic, and this will only continue to rise as more companies go online without properly securing their workforce. Keep your remote team safe from breaches before your business becomes another statistic.

Keep Moving Forward

While managing remote teams can be difficult, it’s important to keep in mind that the benefits of a remote team often outweigh the challenges.

With careful planning and execution, your remote team can be just as productive – if not more so – than an office-based team. And with the prevalence of virtual communication tools, managing a remote team has never been easier as it is now.

If you haven’t yet come to terms that remote work is here to stay, there’s still time to make lasting changes that will also bring lasting value to you and your team. 2022 is a great time to start.

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