The difficulties of remote teams is different from corporate team building in Sydney or in any business where the employees spend time around each other. Google is well aware of these issues, due to having nearly 100,000 workers across 150 cities in over 50 countries across five continents.
To see what makes for a good remote team, the company’s Google’s People Innovation Lab (PiLab), spent two years studying more than 5,000 employees, measuring their well-being, performance, and communication, among other things, and found out how to keep remote teams working well, regardless of how distant they were from each other.
Google People Innovation Lab Manager Veronica Gilrane says that PiLab found minimal differences in the effective, performance ratings, and promotions for people working in remote teams, where work requires having to collaborate with colleagues located in other countries in the world, compared to Googlers who spend their time working with people in the same office space. They add that well-being standards were also uniform across the board, saying that people who worked virtually managed to find ways to maintain a good balance between work and life, by prioritizing important things like getting proper sleep and exercise, same as non-distributed team members.
This is good news, due to the fact that remote work has the possibility of lower costs compared to normal business operations, while also improving the happiness of employees.
Gilrane, however, noted that making a remote team work isn’t easy. They add that many who were interviewed as part of the study says that remote work made it harder to establish connections with colleagues, due to, among other things, needing to schedule across different time zones. For people working together in the same space, corporate team building in Sydney or anywhere else makes cohesion come easier.
Google says that traditional management principles still apply for remote teams, with some necessary alterations to account for the unique conditions of the virtual workplace.
Google recommends three particular things for ensuring that remote teams work well:
- Knowing your colleagues. Google says that employee value superiors and colleagues that care about them outside of professional settings, so Google recommends allotting time at the start of meeting for personal conversations, like things that happened over the weekends, to establish rapport.
- Set clear boundaries. Norms set how teams work together, but the virtual workspace means that clearer guidelines are a necessity. Clearly communicate how communication and messaging will work, how meetings should proceed, and what schedules are.
- Forge connections. Building connections takes time and effort, even more so for remote teams where colleagues are hundreds of thousands of miles away. In such an environment, extra effort needed to connect on a personal level is a must, like, simple things; asking about their weekend, and the lik.