Let’s face it, folks. The workforce is evolving every day. More and more companies are seeing the benefits of remote work, and are welcoming remote teams to their space.
A special analysis done by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics found that there has been a major upward trend in the amount of people working remotely in the U.S. Between 2005 and 2017, there was a 159% increase in remote work. In the span of one year. From 2016 to 2017 alone, remote work grew 7.9% . Research also shows that employees rate being happy in their work as equally if not more important than having a high salary. So the question becomes, how do we spread the “joy” across our remote teams?
Acronyms have always inspired me as a way to help me remember important mantras for how I should be treating others, and more specifically my remote co-workers. Here is a homemade acronym for the word JOY and how it relates to this topic.
Even though our remote team is spread across the country, we are still humans with bad and good days. It seems like a simple task, but a powerful tool to spread joy is by asking questions. One thing that my company has started, and I consider very successful, is a remote “water cooler” meeting. This is a weekly meeting to informally bring our staff together to share. Team members are encouraged to add items to our “living” agenda. It provides our team an open space to have those conversations that we normally can’t have during a structured meeting. Another practice I try to adhere to is while I am waiting for my team to join our zoom video conference; I take the opportunity to ask personal questions of my teammates. I try to take note when someone shares something interesting that they are planning to do and ask them about it later. People appreciate being asked about their well being, and it encourages them to share more about themselves, that the team wouldn’t know, unless it was asked! It gives a positive impression when a team can show interest in each other outside of the “remote” office.
Overcome your camera shyness:
When keeping a remote team together, you have to be very intentional when building co-worker relationships. You are not sitting in a cubicle next to your remote co-worker. You don’t get to observe the family pictures at their desk, their favorite sports team paraphernalia, how they like to decorate their space, or even their fashion sense. Our team has adopted a policy that we keep our cameras on during our Zoom conference meetings. That policy has been monumental in our team getting to know each other’s facial expressions and quirks, but also it enables us to see the backgrounds of our teammates work spaces. Many times I find our team pointing out that someone has a new background and asking where they are working from today. It is always a great conversation starter, and it’s a great ice-breaker for client meetings as well!
You can change someone’s bad day:
One disadvantage to remote work is we miss the non-verbal cues when a colleague walks into an office building soaking wet and carrying a broken umbrella. We miss the opportunity to observe a colleague at the office coffee pot where they look like they haven’t slept all night. These observations lend opportunities to be able to ask about or encourage your fellow co-workers. In remote work, I frequently remind myself to not worry about bothering my co-worker. Check in with them and be intentional about doing so. It takes 30 seconds to type out a quick slack message to check in and see if they are having a good day. For example, I have a co-worker that suffers from asthma. I try to be very intentional to check in with her during the different seasons, when I know her asthma is at its highest potential to cause her trouble. Be intentional in your consideration of others; you never know what one kind word or quick check in can mean to someone!
As you read this,
You may be saying this is all pretty basic stuff that most people already follow. I agree, but in a remote team you can’t take the basics for granted. Punctuate your day with JOY, and don’t be afraid to spread your positivity around your remote work space. You will be pleasantly surprised what positive results will be produced!