Because remote work isn’t for everyone, managing a team of different personalities poses a challenge. Staff who prefer a quieter, isolated work environment can thrive without a bustling office, but the more gregarious ones may feel constricted and isolated in their homes. The leadership teams need to take into account the different social needs and establish social plans to uplift productivity.
Lighthouse, a leadership and management blog, lists 11 ways management could begin their path to establishing a social balance.
- Make time for small talk: When there is downtime and your employees feel up to it, ask the employees about their hobbies, family, TV shows they’re watching, or their latest Amazon purchase.
- Use videos: Text chats through Slack and Teams can feel distant and cold. Put faces on the webcam once in a while.
- Have longer one-on-ones: Lighthouse recommends one hour per employee every week. This, of course, depends on the team size and workflow.
- Never cancel a one-on-one, always reschedule: Lighthouse argues that canceling a one-on-one is the fastest way to get your employees to resent the manager as it indicates that they don’t want to talk.
- Use animated gifs and emoticons: Don’t force the humor, be natural and tasteful when selecting that meme.
- Balance schedule inconvenience: If a team is spread across multiple time zones, schedule meetings that aren’t too late or early for all participants.
- Remember their career paths: Everyone has different aspirations and goals. Help them grow in their areas of interest.
- Be open to adding spontaneous participants to calls, especially if they’re newly-hired remote employees.
- Send stuff to the team: A mug here a t-shirt there. Gifts are a great conversation starter and help people feel connected.
- Face to face once a year: No matter how good the remote team is, they’re still human. Take ample safety precautions, but occasionally gathering together once the pandemic winds down will be crucial.
- Make whiteboard and ideating remote-friendly: Use accessible digital tools to encourage brainstorming while being apart.
In summary, the key is to establish rapport, which means don’t overstep, don’t be overbearing, and respect your employees when they decline to participate. Also, come with a variety of remote-specific questions: ask the employees what they think can be improved upon. This can help tailor an individualistic approach to meeting social needs.