These are the main lessons I learned from leading remote teams
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world, like many business owners, I had to move my business operations entirely online.
While I had followed a remote working model for years, I was often able to physically meet my team members.
However, running a business during the pandemic was exceptional and meant that I integrated team members that I had never physically met, I did not meet my colleagues for months and I worked to rethink the way our business operates and serves our customers, all from behind a computer screen.
With remote working becoming a reality for many businesses, I have learned over the past 18 months key lessons that will help business leaders navigate this working model.
Be transparent with your team and maintain frequent communication
With many employees working behind screens, it’s not uncommon for them to feel lost and isolated.
That’s why keeping your team in the loop is especially important, and maintaining frequent communication is one way to make sure. Share company updates with your team and involve them in discussions when possible.
This will give them a sense of empowerment, make them feel confident, and is a great way to hear their feedback on what could be done to overcome a challenge or take advantage of an opportunity. Frequent company updates could be shared via email, with highlights and updates, or as a weekly meeting.
Accept failure as a learning experience
When employees are unable to meet their leader or coworkers, they are bound to make mistakes. Working physically away from your team requires a different kind of adjustment.
Build a corporate culture where failure is accepted and employees are encouraged to make mistakes. The way I see it is that when we allow room for error, creativity and genius are born.
Focus on well-being and mental health
Several studies and surveys have found that employees are looking for employers focused on their well-being and mental health.
Explore the options for delivering virtual sessions with wellness experts to your team members. Introduce your team members to mobile app subscriptions such as Calm or Nafas Meditation that offer meditations to relieve stress and anxiety.
This brings us to an important point that many of us have overlooked over the past 18 months: time off from remote work is essential, even if you are working from home.
Work and life must be kept separate for our mental well-being and productivity. There are a number of ways that business leaders can apply this.
They could start by introducing a company policy that no business communication should take place after office hours. Another way to do this is to require employees to take annual leave or short breaks two to three times a year.
Allow time for brainstorming and creative thinking
One of the things that I missed when meeting with my team members were the meetings where we weren’t discussing company updates, but rather the ideas that inspired us.
A physical workspace where we meet our team members over lunch or share an important update in the elevator is a way to build relationships and inspire creativity. But when we work away from our team members, it can be difficult.
If you are following a hybrid or remote working model, then you could, if possible, schedule physical meetings dedicated to innovation and inspiration. They can take place in a relaxing environment and dedicated only to discussing inspiring ideas,
As businesses continue to navigate the remote working model, there will be more lessons to be learned and mistakes to be made. One thing that should always remain a priority is our team members and their well-being.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati journalist and entrepreneur who runs her marketing and communications business in Abu Dhabi.
Update: October 31, 2021, 3:30 a.m.