Most of us have found ourselves thrown into a remote working environment within a couple of days! Managers are learning on the job and scrambling to figure out how to support virtual teams.
Research shows that remote teams can actually outperform in-house teams, provided they are set up and managed in the right way. You can't just assemble a dispersed group of talented people and hope for the best.
A few years ago, remote working relationships would have seemed strange. However, thanks to excellent internet connections and video conferencing software, this style of working is now very typical. Remote working relationships are increasingly the norm for our clients too. Roughly 32% of workers in Australia regularly work from home. As more and more companies are forming remote teams with staff (and external contractors) from different locations (even different countries!) to collaborate on projects, managers need to support their people in a much different capacity to the norm.
Although working remotely isn't for everyone, the notion of staff working from the same office and the same business hours are becoming less of the norm. Implications for working environments and relationships are profound. Luckily, Extended DISC theory and the Remote Worker Assessment can help us figure out exactly what our employees may need from us.
Using DISC to support your remote teams:
If you are familiar with Extended DISC profiles for your in-house teams, then you know how helpful it is to be able to support and encourage your employees in the way they need. But, are DISC profiles important for a remote team since you don't see them as often? Knowing the DISC style preferences of your remote workers is critical if you want to set them up to be successful and reap the rewards of a remote team.
Knowing your team's DISC personality profile results is beneficial as it allows you to tailor everything from projects and tasks to workstations to match your employees' skill sets and natural behavioural preferences. For remote workers, the knowledge gained from a DISC profile is even more significant. You'll know how much support and contact each virtual team member will need. You will also get a great idea of which of your team members can handle the isolating aspects of remote work. Each DISC profile needs different levels of support and will value various aspects of remote work. So, knowing what to offer them is essential if you want to have a successful remote program.
Tips to effectively support the DISC Profiles:
- D Styles are likely to stay on task and get things done. D Style workers want to be heard and thrive on competition. Ensure your D Style people have the space to share their achievements and opinions.
- I Styles like to be around people and are the most likely to struggle with working remotely. Ensure you keep in touch with your I style people with messaging apps such as Slack or Microsoft Teams. Just don't be surprised by the amount of chatter coming through these channels.
- Remote work is most suited to your S Style workers, especially if they are working at home with friends or family. Ensure you offer them enough support to cope with the change in working environments.
- Ensure you provide very detailed emails with your C Style workers, so they know the tasks they need to accomplish and how to perform them. Check-in regularly with your C Style people so they can ask questions and discuss their concerns.
Here are some other tips that we've learned to create productive remote teams:
- Create and foster core values that define your "global culture", and create a sense of belonging to the virtual group, not just the local office.
- Communication is key! Your remote workers should feel like they are part of a team, not secondary to the in-house teams.
- Leaders need to "over-communicate" to their teams to retain focus and keep everyone on task.
- Create online chat lines to facilitate personal interactions and foster relationships, i.e. 'What did you do last weekend?'
- Involve everyone in strategic planning to create a shared commitment to team goals.
- Choose technology wisely! The tech you provide plays a significant role in improving the performance of remote workers and also impacts how motivated they are to succeed.
- Use project management dashboards to make performance visible and keep people focused and aligned on the most important things
- Create a meeting schedule and stick to it! These meetings are essential to assign tasks, review goals and agree on the next steps.
- Celebrate the small wins every step of the way (this applies for your in house teams too!)