When teams are migrated to remote, or home office work, we tend to create integration mechanisms because teams need to see each other. Therefore the offices have evolved to open spaces, spaces to share coffee, reading clubs, face-to-face seminars, birthday celebrations, and others. These efforts are good but perhaps temporary and don’t solve the real problem that is how to maintain alignment with the culture, behaviors, and values necessary to have cohesion and integration in your team or company when you work remotely.
In my experience migrating organizations to remote work in Mexico and other countries in Latin America, I’ve found teams that have increased their productivity and engagement in a sustained manner thanks to remote work. But I also have experienced cases in which productivity and engagement fell dramatically to consider that change, a failure.
A recent global study shows that employees in remote work tend to feel excluded from the corporate culture and show feelings of lack of inclusion. When the bosses find out about this, it’s because a lot of time has passed, and the problem has now become serious.
According to the leading inclusion consulting firm Catalyst, your team’s integration could be essential to achieve the objectives and raise the expected performance. The reason’s that feeling included contributes significantly to personal innovation at work.
Leading in times of change involves creating a culture that goes beyond employees or remote colleagues, increasing team confidence and cohesion. Some actions that will help you create meaningful relationships are:
- Have an irrevocable meeting agenda. Weekly meetings are essential to keep track of the quarterly and semi-annual objectives. Individual meetings or 1:1 with each member of your team is also essential. It’s advisable to rotate the leadership of the weekly meetings so that each member of your team has the opportunity to lead and feel involved beyond their own work.
- Apply full calendars. Make sure your collaborator has his calendar filled all day. This means: start of working times, the time to check emails, meals, breaks, calls to the family, everything … should be documented in the calendar. Once a month comment on how each calendar is going, it will be fun to listen to the reasons for deviating from this calendar.
- Have formal conversations about informal topics. Choose a TED video, a Dalia post, or recent news, and save at least 1 hour a month to generate a deep conversation on this topic with your collaborators. Motivate so that everyone shares their opinions. Also keep at least 30 minutes per month for everyone to discuss their favorite topics: management, cooking, sports, culture, cinema, etc.
Technology has created the illusion that teams are connected, when in fact they can feel isolated, discouraged and disengaged, even though their life balance has increased.
Leading in times of change implies being close although you are far away and above all, training in a formal and informal way. Part of this training is to ask the youngest how they want to work and to know that to elevate the performance in your team before you have to satisfy personal needs. Take action.
About the author
Ingrid Medina is facilitator of the Women in Leadership program, Team management in times of change. She has been director of Human Resources in multinationals and has specialized in the management of talent, culture, and inclusion and in advising entrepreneurs in their management and productivity processes.
If you want more information, follow her on LinkedIn