As a remote team leader, you have your work cut out for you when it comes to encouraging teamwork and collaboration. You may have some team members who prefer to work alone, while others are struggling with loneliness — which affects 19% of remote employees — and are desperate for connection.
Working together and team-building are crucial if you want your team members to be productive, engaged, and satisfied with their jobs. Getting everyone on the same page isn’t always easy, though.In this article, we’ll break down the benefits of working alone and working together, as well as how to strike a balance between the two when you work from home. You may also discover ways to create a collaborative remote work environment for your team, too.
Working Together vs. Working Alone
Working together and working alone both come with their own unique benefits and challenges, especially when it comes to remote workers. Some of the benefits of each are outlined below:
Benefits of Working Alone
Those who work alone experience several perks, including the following:
- Work at your own pace;
- Avoid outside distractions and (hopefully) unnecessary meetings;
- Make your own decisions;
- Enjoy sole responsibility for tasks completed.
Working alone also has some drawbacks, though.
For example, holding yourself accountable and motivating yourself can be tricky on days when you’re feeling low-energy or have a lot going on.
Some remote workers have to master asynchronous communication with co-workers. They encounter unique challenges like overcoming roadblocks alone until a co-worker signs online from another time zone.
Benefits of Working Together
As is the case with working alone, working together as a team also provides its own set of benefits, including these:
- Faster results;
- More creativity and innovation;
- Less loneliness and better emotional well-being;
- Work is more evenly distributed;
- Healthy competition can boost motivation and engagement.
Working together — especially among remote team members — can also be tricky.
Personalities may clash, and it can take longer to make final decisions, for example. When team members work together, more meetings are typically required — which can be time-consuming and keep you from getting into a good workflow.
Striking a Balance
When managing a remote team, you don’t have to choose between the two. It’s possible to strike a balance, especially if you use the following strategies:
- Allow schedule flexibility: Letting team members choose their working hours allows them to make time for deep, individual work when they’re most productive and creative;
- Enter meetings with an agenda: Before you schedule team meetings, take time to create a meeting agenda and establish a clear goal — this helps you get the most out of your time together;
- Give everyone a chance to contribute: If some team members never get a chance to speak during meetings, they’re going to have a more negative attitude toward working together verses working alone;
- Encourage feedback: Give team members regular opportunities to offer feedback on the current work setup — send regular surveys to measure team member engagement and morale, for example;
- Respond to feedback: If someone says they could benefit from more independent work or more collaborative work, follow up on that request and let people know you value their feedback.
Be willing to regularly adjust your approach to teamwork and individual work, too. Pay attention to feedback and monitor team productivity over time. This helps you ensure your team is on the right track and can let you know if you need to make changes.
Creating a Collaborative Remote Work Environment
If you want to strike a balance and encourage your remote employees to work together in teams, you’ll need to make some changes. Here are some key qualities of a collaborative remote work environment to strive to create among your own team:
Characteristics of a Collaborative Remote Work Environment
A truly collaborative remote work environment provides team members with the following:
If you want everyone to work together, you need to encourage transparency among your team members.
As a team leader, you need to know how much progress each person has made toward accomplishing their goals. Your team members also need to be able to check-in easily with each other and ask questions, share progress, etc.
Clearly defined goals
These are essential for fostering collaboration and creating a supportive team environment, for both remote and co-located teams. Everyone needs to understand what they’re working toward over the next week, month, or quarter — on company, team, and individual levels!
In addition to understanding their own goals and quarterly targets, team members also thrive when their goals are aligned with the company’s goals and Objectives.
A collaborative environment provides a clear view of the team’s goals. It also explains how those goals are part of a larger vision.
Collaborative remote teams perform best when they have access to data. When they can see how close they are to accomplishing a particular goal, it’s easier for everyone to stay motivated and engaged throughout the project.
When team members have access to data, it’s also easier for them to make informed decisions and understand why other decisions have been made. This contributes to transparency across the entire team, which builds trust and encourages collaboration in the future.
Part of creating a collaborative remote work environment is prioritizing goals and responsibilities.
Everyone needs to know — and agree on — which tasks and assignments are most important. This helps to maximize productivity and allows all team members to make meaningful progress toward their long-term goals.
Task and goal management
Organization is important for team collaboration, too.
Make it easy for everyone to know what’s on the agenda for the coming week, what their assignments are, and how those assignments contribute to the team’s long-term Objectives.
Setting weekly planning meetings, and using a weekly planning and reporting tool can help you manage regular team updates and review progress toward goals week after week.
Regular team surveys
An effective team leader strives to keep their finger on the pulse of how their team members are feeling. To ensure a collaborative, supportive remote team environment, consider distributing team surveys regularly.
This makes it easy for you to measure employee satisfaction and find out how everyone is doing. When you have this information, you can make more informed decisions and better support your team moving forward.
Praise and feedback
Speaking of supporting your team, offering regular praise and feedback is helpful when it comes to encouraging remote team collaboration and boosting morale.
Keep in mind, too, that kudos are good for your company. Research shows that if an employee has received praise or recognition for their work in the past week, the company experiences a 10 to 20% difference in its revenue and productivity.
When team members have regular opportunities to connect — through virtual team-building activities, or a simple #fun chat in your communication software — it’s easier for them to form stronger relationships and develop more trust. Furthermore, when team members feel more connected, they can work together more easily and produce better results.
Create a Safe Space for Teams with Weekdone Team Compass
If you want your team to experience all the benefits and qualities of a collaborative remote environment, you need to invest in team management software like Weekdone Team Compass.
Accomplishing everything listed above manually may feel downright impossible. With the right technology, though, it becomes a lot easier.
Weekdone Team Compass provides team leaders and members with a variety of valuable features, including the following:
- Light use of the popular goal-setting methodology OKR (Objectives and Key Results) for both teams and individual team members;
- Simple weekly status reporting and planning using the Plans, Progress, and Problems (PPP) methodology;
- Features to easily schedule weekly 1:1 chats between team leads and employee;
- Kudos, comments and mentions to promote feedback and recognition among teams;
- Automated progress reports sent to managers at the end of each week.
Weekdone Team Compass helps you to bring your team members together — no matter where they’re located. It also keeps everyone on the same page as they complete various tasks and projects.