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Remote teamwork: Tips for getting it right

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For many businesses, telework has been safe solution for remaining operational. But how to achieve successful teamwork in such a context?

Lockdown measures have revolutionized the way we work and telework is now mainstream. At the height of the pandemic last spring, more than 60% of Quebecers ended up working from home.

With everyone located off-site, it can be hard to get your team on the same page and focus on shared objectives. But before tackling the unique challenges of remote teams, it’s worth revisiting the basics of effective teamwork.

Effective teamwork is a shared responsibility

Even though every team is unique, there are three main pillars for optimal teamwork that apply across the board.

Setting clear expectations and objectives

Above all else, it’s important to establish common performance indicators. That is, how results will be measured and what targets team members are expected to achieve. When assessing these indicators, ask yourself:

  • Is everyone aware of and familiar with the company’s work and/or performance objectives? Is everyone on board to meet them?
  • Are the expectations and objectives specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (SMART)?
  • Do all team members have the skills needed to achieve these goals?

Ensuring healthy interactions between team members

Next, it’s important to assess how people interact within and between teams. Each person’s attitudes and behaviours—both formal and informal—toward the shared objectives impacts the results. To assess this factor and determine if it needs to be addressed, consider the following:

  • Are there barriers that hinder interaction between team members?
  • Are team members able to influence each other?
  • How are decisions made within the team?

Implementing the right processes and procedures to ensure expectations and objectives are met

A third important aspect is your internal processes and procedures. They can help you assess each team members’ roles and responsibilities in relation to the established group objectives. When evaluating this indicator, ask:

  • What mechanisms are used for making team decisions?
  • What method is used for informal communications?
  • Do you have a telework policy?

Everyone is responsible for making sure the team works effectively. What’s more, everyone stands to gain by making this shared responsibility clear and implementing performance indicators aimed at helping you find solutions to problems as they arise.

Since workers are directly concerned by these three indicators, they can—and should—be part of the solution. After all, they’re in the best position to specify their preferences, flag issues that need improvement, propose ideas and develop strategies for improving the team’s work methods. Why not talk to your team about these issues today?

How to optimize your virtual team’s work

This isn’t going to happen magically. It’s going to take some effort. When the pandemic struck, telework was introduced so that workers could stay safe and organizations could stay afloat. Today, many businesses are reaping the benefits of remote work arrangements, but they’re also discovering the drawbacks. A number of specialist publications have noted that telework can negatively impact group cohesion and communication, as well as individual roles and relationships with authority.

Even though it’s up to both managers and team members to make remote work productive and pleasant, here are a few tips for stacking the cards in your group’s favour:

  • Choose high-performance tech tools that your team knows how to use;
  • Make sure the team’s goals are clear and engaging;
  • Focus on group leadership;
  • Define and support a structure that outlines each person’s objectives, roles, tasks and expectations;
  • Communicate clearly;
  • Document group discussions to make sure everyone is on the same page;
  • Keep virtual teams informed of upcoming changes;
  • Set aside time to check in with your team;
  • Take time to get to know each team member.

Interested in optimizing teamwork within your group? Would your workforce benefit from solutions that address specific organizational needs? Contact us for more information about our personalized team consolidation services. Our multidisciplinary experts would be pleased to recommend solutions tailored to your needs.

This article was written in collaboration with Marie-Pierre Chabot, Organizational Psychologist and Human Resources Advisor.

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