How to Encourage Teamwork from a Distance

Collaboration between employees plays a critical role in the success of a business. But now that so many people are working remotely and office capacity is limited (and socially distanced), how do we continue practicing good teamwork?

Communicate Effectively

Communication is key when it comes to collaboration, and it’s even more important when employees are working remotely. Even if you’re together in the office, you have to be properly distanced due to the pandemic, so getting all team members into one room for a meeting might not be possible for a while. To combat these hurdles, make sure everyone is being a masterful communicator and leveraging technology. Encourage the use of instant messaging platforms and consider holding quick, daily check-in calls (using video if possible). Communicate as often and as clearly as possible to ensure nothing falls through the cracks because you can’t always speak face-to-face.

Establish Expectations

With people working from home and often having to come into the office in a limited or staggered capacity, it can become difficult to know exactly when someone is available and answering messages. One person’s hours might not overlap entirely with another’s, so come up with a system, so everyone knows when their coworkers are online and working. In addition, you’ll want to lay down some virtual meeting etiquette rules to follow, such as using your camera, avoiding distractions, and actively participating.

Use Meetings Wisely

When a good portion of your team isn’t working side by side, it can be tempting to hold more meetings than normal. But having to join several meetings a day can decrease productivity (and might not be wise if that means being together in a conference room for extended periods of time), so make sure to make good use of your meetings. This means being proactive and setting an agenda, putting a time limit on each discussion item, and setting clear goals for the meeting. When possible, leverage email and instant messaging instead.

Promote Accountability

When a team is spread out, it’s easy for people to start questioning if their coworkers are really working as much as they say they are. Head those kinds of thoughts off at the pass by creating a transparent environment. This means setting goals that everyone can work toward and tracking people’s progress along the way. Consider using a digital project management tool, so it’s easy to see everyone’s tasks and progress toward goals.

Celebrate Wins

Perhaps now more than ever, employees need to know they’re doing a good job. They also want to know that their coworkers are working equally as hard, so try and go out of your way to acknowledge success, hard work, and goals achieved. Hopefully, this behavior will be contagious, and everyone will start patting each other’s backs, leading to a better team dynamic.

Have Fun

A big part of building a cohesive team is simply having fun together. This becomes a lot more difficult without being able to chit chat in the office every day or go out to happy hours together. It’s time to get creative and come up with new ways to engage and encourage camaraderie, such as virtual happy hours or coffee chats, virtual team-building exercises, or virtual games.

Adjust as Necessary

We’re all figuring this out together, so it’s important for everyone to keep an open mind and keep the lines of communication open. Ask your coworkers if there’s anything you could be doing differently to help them work with you. People have different needs and communication styles, so it’s beneficial to be upfront, honest, and flexible.



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