How to Re-Energize and Re-Humanize Your Remote Team
Never before in human history have people been more lonely, disconnected, isolated, overwhelmed, and stressed. And when it comes to work, remote teams have been particularly impacted.
Why Remote Work has been a Drain on Teams
It’s not an exaggeration to say that work culture is the most critical influencer of your team’s collective energy, engagement, satisfaction, and corresponding performance. In essence, culture is comprised of the totality of interactions in your workplace. Each one has the potential to convey care, trust, psychological safety, unity of purpose, and strong organizational values. This includes seemingly trivial communications, such as small talk near the coffee maker, pleasantries when entering a colleague’s office, and exchanges before/after meetings, and more powerful elements of in-person interactions such as eye contact, body language, and presence.
According to Gallup, a majority of workers in the United States continue to punch in remotely. As a result of remote work, your team’s interactions have changed in frequency and in nature. The very aspects that once gave rise to a sense of connectedness and in-it-togetherness have been removed and replaced with social isolation broken up by occasional transactional meetings or conversations. To compound the challenge, “zooming” — the ubiquitous verb that has come to replace videoconferencing — psychologically exhausts both the mind and the body, according to new research from Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab.
What it Takes to Reinvigorate Your Remote Team: Authenticity + Empathy + Intentionality
Despite these challenges, there’s good news:
# 1: Likely, your team is still working remotely, which means your organization has survived! As the leader, it’s now your job to help your team shift from surviving to thriving.
# 2: The fact that you’re still reading tells me you care a heck of a lot about your team and want to be intentional about how to re-energize its members. You’ve already established the right mindset.
Every change starts with a conversation (and a leader courageous enough to start it). Following is my ‘Leadership Blueprint,’ which outlines a conversation you can have with your team to re-ignite connection, energy, and engagement. What matters is not how many times you’ve led a conversation like this, but rather, the amount of authenticity, empathy, and intentionality you bring to the conversation. Consider these your leadership superpowers.
NOTE: There’s a massive opportunity here. Even when we get back to working in person, remote activities will unquestionably become a fixed reality of our work landscape. Setting up your team for remote success now will serve your team and organization well into the future.
A Blueprint to Re-energize Your Remote Team:
Breathe humanity into your team
Communicate that you want to know how they’re doing. What has been working well? What has not been working well? When do they feel most productive? What gets in the way of their productivity? And before you ask them to share with you, describe to them how you’re really doing. By revealing your own vulnerabilities, you will invoke their trust and empower them to share theirs. By recognizing the humanity in each other, you will rebuild your team’s connection.
Reconnect with purpose
Humans are purpose-driven. In order to feel energized, we have to feel connected to a mission. Remind one another WHY you’re doing what you’re doing. Ask for examples of times when the team’s goals were actualized over the past year.
If your team does not have a unifying purpose, it’s time to get one. And your WHY must be bigger than profits. You cannot motivate your people simply by demanding that they continue to grind it out so that your business can stay afloat (or prosper). In fact, that’s more likely to disengage your team than anything else.
Ask what people need and then help them get it
Ask what people need to go from enduring to thriving in the next 3-6 months. Remember, we’re missing the human component of work. How can we inject that into our interactions? The key is to ask people what they need. Just by inquiring, you will make them feel seen, heard, and cared about. Then, once the needs are on the table, create working agreements to guide the team in an effort to elevate connections and infuse energy.
Don’t forget, an invigorated team drives positive business outcomes.
Set up an accountability system
Accountability is critical. Once working agreements are established, you can then determine how the team will hold one another accountable for maintaining them. Also, by setting a regular cadence for checking-in and evaluating the agreements, you can assess whether they are serving their purpose.
Over seventy percent of companies project they will recoup losses from 2020 in 2021. You can and should be one of those teams. There are nine-and-a-half months left in 2021—that is ample time to realize optimal performance if you reinvigorate your team now.
Embracing remote work is a beautiful thing. It enables flexibility and work/life integration. Leading a remote team that feels connected, energized, and engaged is something any leader can do with purpose and intentionality. If you’d like support in this endeavor, drop me a message!
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