A few years ago, there was a good chance that your office routine and your work environment looked VASTLY different than it does today. The question is, has your approach changed with the times?
With many of us working in fully remote or hybrid environments, we likely enjoy the flexibility and freedoms that have been provided (sweat shorts at work? couch desk? yes, please!), yet we have likely noticed our relationships with our team members may be distant and communication/collaboration just aren’t what they used to be. It doesn’t have to be that way!
Here at WinShape Teams, we are experiencing that alongside you and have discovered (sometimes painfully), what works well and what doesn’t when working from home.
From the leader of the team to the newest team member, everyone has a part to play to positively impact the team culture in any work environment.
Three Tips for Remote or Hybrid Team Members
1. Over-emphasize relationships and connection
Though we work in different places physically, we still need to be in healthy relationship with our teammates and co-workers to produce excellent results.
Connection may look different, but healthy high-performing teams prioritize it and intentionally carve out time to make sure they are in touch with their teammates about work and life.
Some ways to make this happen are:
- Do what you can to connect one-on-one or in small groups to build rapport. This could look like: check-in meetings to find out what is going on at work and at home, starting team meetings with a “get to know you question” or making brief phone calls after meetings to debrief with someone in a personal way.
- Create rhythms to spend time together. Even small tweaks make a difference, such as the 15-minute stand-up, virtual happy hours, outdoor walking check-ins, team lunches, or virtual work sessions (hopping on zoom while working heads down to simulate the office environment).
- Schedule in-person projects, workdays, or retreats when safe and possible. For example: if one of your leaders has a speaking engagement, schedule a teammate to go with them and be in the same brain space– science shows that when physically present our brainwaves literally align. Being together and working on a project will improve your connectivity, and improved connectivity improves productivity.
2. Manage your expectations
We know the power of expecting the best, however a healthy level of assessing reality pairs well with powerful optimism. Knowing this, you can look at work now compared to the way it was a few years ago and expect things (especially communication and relationships) to look differently.
- Adjust connectedness expectations. Understand that your ability to be as connected and in tune with your team will be different than if you were working five days a week in the office. It is still possible to stay connected and in tune with coworkers, but also different and challenging.
- Never assume. We know the adage about assuming, but sometimes it just affects “you.” If you are sending an email on Friday at 5pm with a schedule change for Monday at 8am, pair that with a courtesy text or call at the same time. Lean on the side of overcommunication. Don’t assume that just because you sent it and expect them to have read it, it was read.
- Be forward about collaboration. Maybe you’ve encountered tension with a teammate while working on a project: you expect to work independently and come together at the end, and they expect to collaborate and check-in frequently through the project. You’re frustrated because they keep contacting you, while they’re frustrated about your terseness and lack of teamwork. You can reduce some of this tension by being forward about each other’s expectations and finding a compromise.
3. Relentlessly pursue clear communication
- Expect the best. Realize that fully digital communication is incredibly challenging for the sender and the reader: tone, nuance, intention, and attitude are all challenging to interpret correctly over text. One solution for you, when receiving communication, is to expect the best of others and clarify when needed. If something rubs you the wrong way, communicate your interpretation via phone or video call—“that last email seemed hostile”—and allow them to (a). realize how it came across and (b). clarify their intention. Give immense grace and empathy to those you are working with. If someone is consistently rude and “doesn’t seem to care,” continue reminding them how their approach is affecting people as gently and kindly as you can—that’s the relentless part.
- Communicate your working style early and often. Finish sentences like:
- When working with me you can expect me to ___ (work quietly on my own and reach out with specific questions, ideate a lot and need collaboration, work in steady and repeatable processes, etc.)
- I work best/focus most in the ___ (morning, midday, afternoon, night) so I need space to work uninterrupted at that time.
- My preferred method of communication is ___ (video call, phone call, text).
Be clear about your preference for others to “Come to you HOW and Approach you WHEN.” Here are a few examples:
- TEXT: What color do you want the sales presentation to be?
- CALL: When is the best time to schedule this series of meetings?
- VIDEO CALL/IN PERSON: I’d like to manage some conflict we are having OR provide feedback from that last sales call OR cover your performance review for this year.
- Create or seek clarity. The most important aspect of healthy communication is clarity. Check for understanding when you pass something along, ask for clarity when you aren’t sure, and be patient.
Caution: We never said these tips were easy, yet they are necessary.
All of these tips boil down to serving the people you are working with. Care for them, communicate with them, be clear with them and you may be shocked at how it changes your team’s experience and results. Communicating clearly and effectively and managing conflict healthily will take your workplace to a stronger level where you and the people around you are more fulfilled.