Working from home is becoming more of an everyday reality than a dream for many. Higher internet speeds, shared drives, virtual private networks, and Zoom — all make it feasible to connect and work from home. Remote work can be awesome and create a desirable work-life balance.

But while connection is easier than ever in terms of technology, relational connection can become a bit trickier. Remote work can make it difficult to build relationships and manage your team. Keep reading for tips to assist you in better supporting your virtual team.  

1. Organize Your Meetings

Organization can be an obstacle for remote workers.  It can be a particular challenge to keep your meetings straight, since you don’t walk into a room and immediately see everyone. Smart teams use a meeting agenda to organize their meetings. The agenda shows at a glance who is part of the group and what needs to be done.

Some remote participants find it harder to remember what was said in virtual meetings compared to in-person ones. Your agenda can help here, too. Have meeting leaders add notes specifying action items and who is responsible for what to the agenda, then send these notes to attendees afterward. This keeps tasks and projects on track, organized, and moving forward. It also creates accountability for team members regarding deadlines.

2. Turn on Your Camera

A simple thing like turning on your camera during video calls can go a long way in connecting with your remote team. While in a virtual environment, it can be challenging to feel like you’re part of something larger than yourself. Turning on your cameras gives you and your team members a face-to-face interaction. It lets everyone get to know each other better through nonverbals and facial cues.

How does this lead to better support? Feeling like you know your team members and they know you can build trust. Having your video on also encourages folks to stay engaged and focused. It’s far too easy to ignore what’s going on in a meeting when no one can see you. As a manager, you can lead the charge and create a culture of presence in your team. Turn on your video when meetings start and encourage your direct reports to do the same.

3. Hold One-on-One Meetings

Make one-on-one meetings a priority for your virtual team. These meetings give your team members time with you on an individual basis. They can use these to report progress, ask questions, or just let you know how they are doing. Some managers schedule these as monthly, biweekly, or even weekly meetings.

Decide what works best for your group and stick with it. Try not to cancel these check-ins. Employees feel heard and seen when they are given this time. Creating an agenda for these meetings can help keep them on track as well. Make sure to leave time for the employee to bring up any ways you can support them.

4. Automate Project Management

Keeping projects organized and running on time is a tall order whether you’re in a traditional office or remote setting. When a team is remote, though, it’s more difficult to pop by and give each other reminders. Setting up a project management system for your team can do wonders in making sure they are supported. Such systems add a level of clarity and accountability to the team. 

A project management system makes it easier to work together no matter the location of your employees. You can see where project deliverables are, tag each other when tasks need to be delegated, share files, and more. Being able to find project information in a central location as opposed to having to delve through myriad emails is a huge timesaver. It will add substantially to your team’s overall efficiency.

5. Dedicate Time to Team Culture

Even though your team members are working from the comfort of their own home or even a coffee shop, culture matters. Employees want to belong to something larger than themselves. They also want to have a work-life balance and feel like their organization is supportive and inclusive. That’s why it’s important to dedicate time to diversity and inclusion initiatives.

If your team is spread out across the globe, don’t just focus on U.S. holidays. Make sure to celebrate team members around the world. These individuals will feel seen, and your other employees will learn some things too. Newsletters, town halls, and fun employee engagement activities allow your focus on culture to trickle down as well. You could even form a virtual employee activities committee.

Though many think work-life balance is achieved just by allowing remote work, there is more you can do. Make sure your employees know it’s OK to unplug for the evening. Encourage them to take walks or work out during their lunch hour. Create a culture of support, engagement, and inclusion. Work on relational connection even though you’re virtual.

Working on these things can help your team feel like they are part of a greater whole. It connects them to their team and to their organization. Lead by example. Turn on your camera, separate work life from home life, and create some balance. Your team members will follow suit as you continue making yourself available to support and lead them.

About the Author(s)

Adam Torkildson

Adam is a long-time resident of American Fork, UT. He serves in several local service organizations and advises several startups that he's invested in or founded.

Owner, Tork Media

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5 Tips for Better Supporting Your Remote Team