During the pandemic, many people may have felt separated from their loved ones and friends while social distancing, so the usual connections and general comfort of life were missing. The same challenge appeared in teams of professionals who were forced to work remotely. A high percentage of employees report that they feel uncomfortable and disunited. The usual practices of corporate events and team building have come to naught, and there is no longer an opportunity to drink a cup of coffee at work together and have small talk with colleagues. In such conditions, how can you maintain the spirit of the team and its alignment? Read on to find out.
4 Ways to Improve Remote Team Alignment
While remote work has many benefits, such as allowing workers to wear slippers to the virtual office, the arrangement has a downside: employees may feel alienated from the company. If not addressed, these challenges can affect productivity at work and lead to higher turnover.
Luckily for all, management experts know about the importance of spending time and effort on remote team alignment.
Make team alignment possible by setting common objectives.
- Establish the company’s long-term goals and break them down into actionable steps for each remote employee.
- Communicate your plans to the higher-ups and get their support.
- It’s essential to let everyone know both their personal objectives and the company’s.
- Assist your team in reaching their individual objectives.
Where can you begin when trying to establish objectives for a remote team?
- Streamline your efforts with the help of technology. By facilitating virtual communication and collaboration, technology helps distributed teams work together toward common objectives and boost their alignment.
- Chat and get together through electronic means. The team may get together virtually to decide on objectives using the available communication tools.
- Make sure you’re able to quantify your objectives. Clearly define the company and each remote team member’s objectives, as well as the criteria by which success will be determined.
- Establish individual due dates for remote team members. Schedule specific times by which the team members and their respective tasks must be completed.
Despite all the advantages of remote-first workplaces, it also presents some challenges, such as how to effectively manage a remote-working staff and how to handle people working in multiple time zones. We use web-based project management software to track individual tasks, who is responsible for what, which parts have been completed and what still needs doing for our software releases and marketing efforts.
Another challenge remote-first companies face is developing a strong internal culture. It is difficult for team members to feel a sense of belonging when everyone is working in different time zones and locations. A remote-first business that fails to create a sense of belonging or reduce the general, overall loneliness that can occur in remote working environments will struggle with staffing loss.“
Threats to Remote Team Alignment
1. Distances between time zones
When a company has workers more than five time zones apart, it might be challenging to get everyone together for a video chat or to work on a project simultaneously. Every manager has to be able to assess a situation and decide if a synchronous or asynchronous virtual meeting is required, thus having cross-cultural communication between team members to keep the spirit of team alignment.
2. Decreased in-person interactions
Regarding team alignment seminars, nothing beats face-to-face interactions since it enables us to observe people’s faces and body language. Virtual communication, such as email and chat rooms, has become fertile ground for negativity bias in the Information Age. Because of the decline in in-person interactions, emojis have become a popular tool for expressing feelings and bridging the gap between virtual and real-world interactions.
3. Separated departments
Remote team alignment is severely hampered by the emergence of counterproductive silos in a company, which is a real risk when team members are spread out around the globe. Some workers create virtual groups to accomplish their aims, while others are left in the dark.
Ways to Fix Team Alignment
1. No extra meetings
Many managers use virtual meetings to keep teams interested even though they don’t work together closely. However, having a lot of meetings each week might negatively impact productivity and actually create a loss of alignment. Zooming makes you tired. A lack of organization in remote meetings may lead to more confusion than clarity and stifle progress. All gatherings need to be directed toward a particular goal. Teams need to cooperate to achieve something significant and thus improve alignment. When you know why you’re holding a virtual meeting, you can design an agenda to help you get where you need to go.
Team meetings may help relay status updates and other notifications. Teams may use huddles to air their problems and get feedback from their peers. Despite the seemingly positive influence on alignment, we must stress that this is not an open forum. Instead, updates on important projects or initiatives should be discussed at these virtual gatherings. Doing so keeps projects ahead, and team members are encouraged to persevere despite setbacks. Setting up a virtual meeting system for a distributed team for the first time might be intimidating.
2. Make sure everyone is OK on your team
More than ever, it’s crucial that people be able to empathize with one another. Hiding behind a computer screen makes it easy to conceal feelings of anger and depression. When people in a fully remote team don’t see each other regularly, the bonds that hold the virtual group together may quickly weaken, and their alignment can be disrupted. These interactions are still required for a remote group to develop and function smoothly. Leaders need to look beyond the completion of individual projects and concentrate on establishing long-term viability to achieve lasting success. To achieve this goal, it is crucial to encourage team alignment.
Avoid making any hasty conclusions. Maintain regular virtual contact with team members to inquire about their health and happiness. Make time and room for people to talk and form bonds. The virtual workplace environment should be recreated as closely as possible. You must maintain many lines of contact to keep your remoteteam in alignment when working remotely.
Getting the word out about a strategy shouldn’t be seen as a one-and-done deal. You put in a lot of effort to establish consensus on the proper goals, and now everyone in the business must be on the same page in order to be productive. Your virtualteam meetings should be a regular part of the routine: everything you do in the workplace, from daily huddles and weekly virtual meetings to quarterly planning and monthly evaluations, can be done here. Shift your regular work routine to a remote platform (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, etc.) or special virtual collaboration tools (e.g., Nimbus). This not only structures your daily routine, but also improves remote team alignment.
Establish a regular virtual written communication schedule and one-on-one touchpoints. People in a crisis situation will naturally think the worst if they aren’t getting regular updates, thus threatening the process of alignment. Provide as much information as you can, even if you don’t have all the answers, so that your remoteteam knows what’s going on and is confident that you’re doing all you can to provide them with the data they need. Keep in mind that there are always two sides to a story, so after communicating your priorities by email or a virtual town hall, be sure to follow up with everyone who reports to you to see whether they received the message. Do they have a working plan for how they will contribute to the company’s success in meeting its objectives and supporting the alignment process?
3. Modernize your virtual cooperation tools
As a result of the drastic changes in organizational structure brought on by the pandemic, many businesses have rapidly shifted their in-office work remotely. However, many businesses lack the resources to facilitate productive and collaborative remote work environments. Many companies are now committing to a policy of working exclusively with remote or hybrid offices, so top executives must rethink how they handle the transition.
An open line of communication is essential to fostering trust and greater alignment among distributed team members. Lean into project and task sharing with other team members and departments to cultivate a transparent virtual work environment. Use a cloud-based collaboration platform to keep projects in the open and eliminate communication barriers caused by virtual silos.
For the purpose of team alignment, Nimbus Platform can be helpful. Nimbus has developed a convenient software where users may save their thoughts, papers and virtual reading material. Nimbus Note supports a wide range of content formats, including but not limited to plain text, to-do lists, tables, databases, photos, videos, embeds from other sites and attached files of any kind. Nimbus Note’s organizational structure (organizations, workspaces, folders, subfolders and pages) allows you to categorize and arrange your data neatly.
Keep your remote team on track with Nimbus Platform™
With Nimbus, remote members may organize their team and company’s data, in addition to managing projects, responsibilities and work. Nimbus Note makes it simple to compile reports and documents in one convenient virtual location.
This strategy is not meant to promote excessive micromanagement. Instead, it fosters a sense of teamwork by keeping everyone updated on the progress of other people’s initiatives and facilitates remote team alignment. Individuals are more inclined to try to discover a solution jointly when problems are discussed and addressed.
4. Get assistance from outside your team
Managers, particularly those in remote positions, may quickly become isolated. Managers who solicit team input, can better overcome their prejudices and provide a more welcoming environment for all employees. To fine-tune your virtual meetings and operations, you should solicit input. The next step is to formulate a strategy for resolving difficulties and reorienting the team in light of new insights gained from feedback. Encourage remote team alignment and productivity even among geographically dispersed members by creating an environment where open communication is encouraged.
Getting help from people outside your remote group is a great alternative to dealing with problems single-handedly. Collaborate with other top managers in your firm to improve processes. Consider working with design-thinking facilitators to help you get through challenging virtual courses and improve team alignment. They provide fresh eyes to existing remotemeeting systems, allowing you to see flaws and discover untapped avenues of virtual communication and alignment risk factors.
5. Come up with a strategy that will help you succeed
“High performance teams rely on strong leadership, clarity of goals, selfless teamwork, innovation through constant learning and a winning culture”, says Sonia McDonald, CEO & Founder of McDonald, Inc.
You can’t juggle a hundred things to get done right in an instant. Such a stressful and overloaded schedule might harm team alignment. Concentrate your remote team’s efforts on a few high-priority tasks. Plan for contingencies and make sure the top initiatives are the ones that will assist your business the most right away, but also leave space for unexpected work. Perhaps you need to shift your whole business model to better serve your clients, enter a new virtual market or make changes to your product or service offerings. The team’s effectiveness hinges on its remote members’ ability to come to a consensus on a set of immediate objectives and communicate those goals to one another, thus facilitating alignment.
Working from home may be a short-term fix for many people. However, the benefits of remote work do not require giving up efficiency, proximity or satisfaction. Remote teams will achieve greater heights of success and make more progress in alignment than ever before if they are prepared to work together and try new things.
Even when everyone is in the same room, it may be difficult to get and keep the spirit of team alignment. Managers must be sure that while everyone is working remotely, they are still pulling in the same direction and focusing on the proper tasks. It is crucial to be confident that everyone in a remote team is on the same page when it comes to the most crucial objectives for your company’s work, recovery and growth.
When working remotely, it’s important to set up many channels of virtual communication to keep your team feeling connected and friendly. Establish a regular routine to ensure effective team communication. Make the switch to a remote platform, use specifically designed collaboration tools (e.g., Nimbus) and commit to a certain time each week for virtual writing communication.
Maintaining alignment with a remote team may need some more work and communication, but if managers successfully carry out the few crucial tasks necessary for the company to succeed, this time will have been well-spent.
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