Cultivating a Productive Remote Team

It’s heartwarming to see employers going the extra mile to create a supportive space for employees as they deal with the unavoidable distractions of working under quarantine.

My employer, for instance, started a Wellness group to help staff learn self-care techniques and provide a space to discuss our struggles and frustrations. My team leader hosts a group meeting twice a week to discuss projects and ways we can help each other hit our targets. I promise I’m not brown-nosing when I say these supports have increased my productivity and made me feel safe to communicate challenges and ask for project support.

Employers can play a significant role in helping their employees remain productive while facing new challenges and distractions in the way of their capacity to be their most effective work-selves. As an employee who has experienced the benefits of a supportive employer, I’d like to pass on a few strategies that might be helpful to you and your staff:

Create a Culture of Openness – Create a safe space for employees to ask questions, express concerns, and ask for help—a place where they can express what they’re feeling and communicate frustrations. Consider hosting a bi-weekly or monthly staff Q/A session for employees to connect with team leaders and setting up a communication channel where staff can ask questions publicly or anonymously.

Communicate Expectations – It’s not business as usual. Communicate your understanding that productivity across your agency will inevitably dip due to increasing distractions and concerns. Let your team know you will work with them to set realistic expectations about what they can give to their team.

Revisit Your Work Plan – The targets you set for your team to meet before quarantine may need some adjustment. Work with your employees to identify priorities and rework your project timeline.

Check-in Frequently – Schedule recurring check-ins with your full team, giving space for staff to collaborate and ask for assistance to complete a deliverable or address a challenge. Connect informally with each team member so they feel supported and can communicate about issues or feelings they don’t feel comfortable sharing with a group.

Prioritize Team Building – Employees may be feeling disconnected from their colleagues. Virtual team-building exercises can help maintain a collaborative team environment and build strong relationships between employees. Some employers are hosting virtual happy hours, others are coordinating learning sessions for employees to hone their skills.

Share Updates – Share updates with your team on what’s happening in your agency. Is leadership developing a transition plan for heading back into the office? Are new employee training programs being developed to elevate productivity or teach new skills? Keeping your team up to date can help mitigate fears of the unknown and help them stay focused on the task at hand.

Create an Employee Engagement Channel – Create a space for employees to share tips to support productivity and self-care, get feedback on a deliverable, and even share funny videos and uplifting news articles. My colleague just shared this video with me. I laughed out loud.

Whether staff head back to the office a month from now or remain virtual for the foreseeable future, I hope these strategies can help you cultivate a productive remote team for however long this lasts…

Stay healthy!

Devin Boyle is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. She is Senior Consultant at Wheelhouse Group supporting the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) as Emerging Technology Lead and acting as Adviser to XR Access. An experienced communicator and avid writer, she has authored articles for national, local, and trade publications to advocate for societal change and social inclusion for vulnerable populations. She believes in the benefits of preparation before execution and the personal and professional power of Mindful Self-Compassion practice. She lives with her partner, dog, and one-eyed cat in Arlington, VA. You can follow her on Twitter and read her posts here

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