Building strong teams takes work, time and commitment. Activities that establish firm foundations, such as developing a strong company culture based on shared goals and values, through to fostering an environment where team members respect and trust colleagues are crucial.
For businesses that are adopting remote working and remote team collaboration, the challenges of establishing and nurturing strong teams are even more acute. How do you create effective collaborative work spaces when team members are geographically dispersed for the majority of their time at work, as well as promoting a sense of belonging and team camaraderie?
By developing strong organisational policies and procedures, as well as harnessing the power of technologies such as virtual reality, remote teams are not only able to work well together, but also potentially work more productively with improved workflows in a more focused environment.
Our 6 top tips for building strong remote teams include:
1. Introducing a strong company culture
Building a strong company culture is the foundation for all good businesses. But when you’ve remote team working in place, it’s important to ensure that each team member understands a clear collective vision – and that their work contributes to it. It’s crucial that team members feel their efforts are valued as this helps to reinforce their commitment to a shared vision.
Make sure your company’s vision and mission are accessible to all staff and referred to regularly in internal communications activity. Regular staff feedback is a useful tool to gauge the understanding and acceptance of your corporate culture – and your team’s commitment to it.
2. Setting clear team aims and objectives
Ever sat in an office and wondered what the person sat opposite you really did all day? For remote working teams, this can be seriously amplified, as working in isolation can easily lead to feeling disconnected. Establishing clear and measurable team aims and objectives in addition to shared activity plans that are regularly reviewed is crucial to effective remote team working. It will help to motivate team members by giving them a clear direction, an understanding of how their day-to-day work fits into the bigger picture and an appreciation of the contributions of fellow team mates.
3. Introducing the right tools for collaborative team working
Getting the right technology in place is central to building a strong remote team. Video conferencing, instant messaging and task sharing platforms can all help to streamline communications and activity by keeping team members connected.
The development of virtual reality has moved remote teamwork onto the next level. The beauty of VR platforms, such as Future Visual’s VISIONxR™ is that they offer collaborative spaces where team members can interact with each other. So even if they are working thousands of miles away from each other, they can meet, work and train together in the same space in real time. The potential to connect teams in one working environment, coupled with the lower unit cost of VR hardware such as the HTC VIVE and Oculus Quest, means that VR solutions offer cost effective ways to facilitate collaborative remote and streamline workflows.
4. Building effective communications channels
Out of sight should never be out of mind. Establishing two way communications channels is at the heart of building effective remote teams and creating a transparent working environment. This should start from day one of someone joining the team with a robust and interactive onboarding programme. Regular meetings are crucial for bringing the team together to discuss team activity as well as more broader issues across the business. Meetings also provide a good opportunity to get to know other members of the team, so introducing informal icebreakers during a meeting can help to encourage team bonding.
VR platforms can also play a significant part in providing effective shared meeting spaces, from setting the right tone by creating environments to suit the agenda, through to giving team members the chance to interact as if they were in the same room. Read more about how VR can radically change the way we do remote meetings.
In addition to creating traditional communications channels such as internal newsletters, introducing virtual show and tell sessions is a great way to find out more about fellow team members and their work, as well as celebrating successes and sharing ideas.
5. Having a robust training programme where team members learn together
Learning and training together can help to strengthen team dynamics in addition to addressing personal skills gaps. VR collaboration platforms are fantastic for teams to train together in the same virtual space. Problem solving, working together effectively and replicating real-world, practical work-related training can help team members to improve performance, identify strengths and learn how to collaborate together effectively.
6. Fostering informal and social connections
In many workplaces, informal connections and non-work-related activity are as important to nurturing effective team relationships as more formal staff policies and procedures. But how do you create watercooler moments when people aren’t sharing the same physical space? Introducing online hangouts and informal virtual team building exercises such as quizzes, online book clubs and virtual health sessions can help teams to bond over more than just work and help to foster relationships with teammates who might never get to meet face-to-face.