Five Must-Dos for Supporting Remote Colleagues

As remote work continues to be a growing reality, it's critical that we as leaders know how to build a strong, productive, and collaborative team irrespective of if we physically sit. In the past, I've talked about "The Six Commitments of Working Remotely" that me and my team follow when we are working remote, but what can we do as office-based collages for our remote ones?

 This week on (the Harvard Business Review digital magazine), a friend Jennifer Moss asked for my thoughts as she researched and highlights the challenges that our remote team members face: loneliness and burnout (article link here).

The Five Must-Dos for Supporting Remote Colleagues:

  1. Budget accordingly | I ensure that my team has the budget for physical face-to-face time so great relationships are  built. I'm a firm believer that with trust comes speed and therefore agility. Relationships take time to build and can take longer to build virtually. Therefore I ensure my team gets together twice to four times annually is money well spent 

  2. Include Video Call links in all Calendar Invites | when we get together on meetings, we leverage video conference. Google Hangouts are okay and free with gsuite, but zoom conference is (in my opinion) best-in-class for larger calls because the quality is better and it enables you to see all participants and share screens more seamlessly.

  3. Imagine You’re on the Other Side of the Camera and Mic | Technology has its benefits and its limits. We’ve all been on the call that we cannot hear someone, or we can hear someone that we cannot see as they’re speaking outside of the camera view. If you have people joining remotely, ensure that they can hear and see everyone as if they were in the room. I give my remote team full permission to (in the moment) provide candid feedback to those inside of the room if they can't hear or see. I take this so seriously to the point that recently I asked my team to do a dry-run of the audio and video quality for a consultant that was joining us remotely. The time of the people on the call was too valuable to have a poor experience or be delayed by tech issues. The result, the consultant actually commented that the technology experience was seamless.

  4. Mimic the in-office Experience | If your in-room or in-office meeting attendees get a printout of that data dashboard, then so should the remote team. Plan in advance to get your remote team what they need. Recently, I led an eight-hour strategy meeting with my peers where we had two of our colleagues joining via video.  I knew that we'd have snacks and such for the 3 pm sugar crash in the room, so I sent my remote peers their favourite snacks in a care package via FedEx. A little effort goes a long way, they both were grateful, felt special and very included. 

  5. Staff Rewards Equity and Fairness | Every six weeks or so I like to go to lunch or coffee with the team that sits with me in the office. If I can't get to my remote team members in the same way, I will ensure they can have a dinner with their significant other or coffee by sending over a handwritten note and a gift card to a local spot they can enjoy.

 And one optional one for teams spanning multiple time zones... Inconvenience Everyone Equally | if you have a team that is in multiple home time zones, alter your recurring meetings so you share the burden of who is waking up early or staying online late.

As always, I’d be curious if you have any additional tips for supporting your remote teams. Feel free to comment below or reach out via linkedIn.