The challenge of remote and virtual working.

Remote and virtual working is increasingly a way of life for many of us. Making it work for the business and the people, needs a little practice.

The challenge of remote and virtual working.

Making it work for the people and the business.

Remote and virtual working is great for some people but not for everyone. You may be enjoying the experience or wondering how to get work done, around multiple adults and children all asking for time and attention. For HR professionals, there is a wealth of support and advice on the CIPD website. However, it’s not just the legal and practical challenges we need to address. We also need to help people to adjust to different ways of working. When the first part of the COVID crisis has passed, you may find that your organisation really does not want to ‘snap back’ to the way things were before. The way we help people now, is going to have an impact on how organisations change and work, in the future.

When your teams are at home and cannot see each other the way they normally would in the office, different kinds of challenges arise. You may find that people are:

  • Fatigued by being in front of a screen all the time.
  • Lonely because they see so few work colleagues.
  • Feeling they have lost the sense of team.
  • Struggling to stay motivated.
  • Overworking, as it’s so much more productive at home.
  • Not always clear what impact they are having, as the interactions are so different.

CIPD research shows that virtual teams have specific challenges to address. This includes building social cohesion, encouraging more effective communication sharing, using different tools to monitor work and projects and building or maintaining trust within the team. Many new starters during the last few months, may have only met their colleagues online. This creates particular issues that  managers and leaders may not yet be skilled to deal with. CIPD recommend some good team building. Management training and leadership development is just as important.

Scmidt (Industrial and Organizational Psychology 2014) suggests that the way leaders and managers behave, has a real impact on virtual teams. Improving communications within the team is seen to be important. Not just how the manager communicates with the team, but how the manager encourages communication across the team. The frequency, style and media richness also have roles to play.

Do all your managers feel confident about managing differently in a remote or virtual environment? Does their behaviour and style of management meet the needs of the team members?

Practical Resources

We would love to help you support your managers to manage with agility and confidence, in this changing world. Before you contact us, you might want to check out some resources we think could be useful.

Team building is a powerful way of bringing your team together. You may have an established team who are now working differently, or perhaps a team with new starters, changes to roles and ways of working. This article by one of our senior facilitators gives both practical guidance and instructions for running a team building exercise.

Try a “silent zoom”. We use this at CLS and for colleagues in different countries it’s a great way of feeling you’re still a part of a team, working together in a virtual office. Think of it as being in the same room, quietly working and sometimes looking up and having a short chat or asking for help, or even stopping for a coffee break together. Lots of groups are using silent zooms quite successfully. This newspaper article explains a bit more about them.

Remind managers of some of the essentials of being a manager. Sometimes that will be all they need. This highly practical article by Tim Kemp, a global senior facilitator in CLS, will be useful to every manager, no matter how senior.

Developing your leaders and managers

Your managers can benefit from essential information about themselves and their team members. We provide a range of psychometrics – DISC, HBDI, EQ/ EI and others – which can help managers and teams understand the best ways of working and communicating. Understanding how to best encourage, engage and communicate with everyone, can be transformational. Profiling can be delivered remotely and online, very easily. 

Teams benefit from managers using a coaching style too, especially in a virtual environment when people need to be self-reliant. Now could be a good time to update coaching skills for your managers and leaders. Enabling managers to be effective in using a coaching approach, can improve problem solving, help colleagues cope better with the unexpected and help people feel closer to other members of the team.

All CLS virtual workshops are designed to be highly experiential for maximum impact. Our management training and team development uses appropriate tools, hands-on role-play, simulation and exercises. The experience for delegates can be profound. Here is a testimonial from a client attending a virtual session with us in May 2020:

On behalf of our team, we can never thank you enough !

We have benefited from your knowledge and experience and this will allow us to understand better our strengths and our weaknesses.  We have learnt the meaning of team work and active leadership.

This was definitely a priceless and remarkable experience that every manager deserves to have at least once in their career.

Thank you for those amazing moments and hopefully, see you soon somewhere in the world!

We are here to help

Would you like this kind of impact for your organisation? Do get in touch to discuss how we can help you right now. Our experiential learning is highly practical, engaging and transformational. We are helping organisations thrive and innovate. Would you like to be one of them?

Cecilia Westin Curry is sales lead for the UK, Ireland and Nordic countries. For an informal discussion on whether we are the right people to partner with you, do get in touch with her. Cecilia moves between Scotland, Sweden and Zoom

Jo Reese Assoc. CIPD

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