How to maintain team spirit remotely
Running a team is never an easy job. You not only have to coordinate people that have different skills, temperaments, and ideas, but you also have to figure out how to keep your team motivated. Doing this is hard enough on its own and once you add the extra difficulty of not being in the same office, you will soon realize why it can sometimes seem impossible to maintain team spirit remotely. So, since remote work is becoming more and more present, we are going to help you tackle this complex and often arduous task.
Why is it important to maintain team spirit
Before we get into the various tips on how to maintain team spirit remotely, we should first cover why is it important to do so. After all, with careful planning and proper performance tracking, you can simply divide your team into individual members and give each of them something to do. However, there are a couple of reasons why fostering a sense of community is not only worth your time and effort, but is vital for the success of your work. Multiple studies have shown that people perform better if they feel that they are a part of a hardworking team. The need to not let the team down often wins over the need to slack off or to underperform.
Ways to maintain team spirit remotely
Now that we know why it is important to maintain team spirit, let's look at various ways to do so remotely. An important thing to note here is that being "remote" from your team can mean different things. It can mean that you and your team are forced to work from home (for instance, during the COVID-19 crisis). Or, it can mean that your team is together in the office, but you have to be absent for some reason. These situations have notable differences, so we will look at them separately.
Working from home
The main obstacle when working from home is that people have no personal contact with one another. Sure, they may chat on Slack about work or complain about how hard it can be to set up an office at home that will boost productivity. However, without physical contact, it can be quite easy to drift apart and feel isolated. So, in order for you to maintain team spirit remotely, you need to focus on making everyone feel that they are still a part of the team.
Keep your team posted
The first thing you want to do is to keep your team posted. Regular updates on how projects are doing, how business is fairing, and for how long you'll have to keep up with working from home will be quite useful. The key thing here is to keep your team updated, but not to overwhelm them with information. Remember, they are spending a large amount of time in front of their computers. Therefore, if you force them into needless team meetings, they will only become overwhelmed and frustrated, so don't push it. Short and sweet is the key.
1 on 1 contact
The only viable way to actually maintain contact with your team members is with 1 on 1 contact. Again, you can organize a full team meeting and ask everyone how they are doing. But don't expect much more than an uninterested "Fine." If you feel that a team member is drifting apart, invite them to a 1 on 1 conversation. That way you'll actually have a chance to talk about how they are feeling and help boost their team spirit. This will remind them that just because they are working from home, doesn't mean that they are alone.
Online team building
One way in which you can deal with maintaining team spirit remotely is with online team-building exercises. Multiple companies have tried organizing fun gaming sessions for their employees in order for them to have some fun and vent. Mind you, these will be nowhere near the regular team-building exercises when it comes to boosting team spirit, but they can have a great impact. The main thing here is to not make team building mandatory, as doing so only defeats its purpose.
Being away from an in-office team
It often happens that the owner of the company needs to be away for a while. Be it in order to tackle important business, or due to personal reasons, they simply cannot be present in an office. Unfortunately, just because you are away from your team, doesn't mean that you can stop managing it. So, here is what to do. Have an in-office team coordinator Having a reliable in-office team coordinator is paramount. There always needs to be a captain of the ship present in the office. Someone that your workers can turn to and rally around. So, if you are not there to be that captain, make sure that you pick someone reliable to take your place. Know that this person will be your relay and that without them maintaining team spirit remotely is practically impossible.
With a reliable in-office team coordinator, you'll be able to monitor your team carefully and help maintain team spirit. Keep in mind that while it may seem easier to simply leave team management to your coordinator, you should refrain from doing so. Ideally, you want to let them handle everyday issues and team dynamics. But, if a problem arises or a member of your team starts drifting away, you should step in. Don't shy away from 1 on 1 talks and encouraging your entire team.
Bradley Walsh has worked as a commercial mover and business coordinator for over 20 years. He now focuses on writing helpful articles about office relocation and office management for websites like verifiedmovers.com.