Geo-dispersed teams have their perks — especially at technology companies, where it’s possible to get your work done from anywhere. The value proposition is a win-win. Leadership teams have access to top talent from anywhere in the world, and employees can even work poolside if they want.
The problem with geo-dispersed teams, however, is that the experience can feel lonely. No matter how you spin it, you’re all alone — you may have never met your colleagues, and you’re probably confined to your home office.
If you’re running (or managing) a geo-diverse teams, it’s absolutely crucial to boost employee morale by forging interpersonal relationships. Here are 5 tips for getting started.
Step 1: Incorporate plenty of face-time
Don’t do your calls on the phone — do them on video. On a high-definition screen, it’s almost like you’re talking face to face. Phone conversations can be awkward and clunky, especially if you and your team have never met in person.
The more that you can make eye contact and read one another’s facial expressions, the more of a human bond you’ll be able to build.
Step 2: Meet up in person
Plan a fun trip somewhere as a team. Even if you’re budget-strapped, it’s extremely important that you spend time together as a group. You don’t need to do this monthly or even quarterly — once or twice a year will suffice.
Step 3: Emulate coffee breaks
Force each other to take breaks. Talk about what’s happening in your lives beyond work. At the office, coffee breaks are powerful for getting to know one another. When you’re part of a virtual team, you don’t have the luxury of running into your office mates in the hall or kitchen. You need to force these moments.
Step 4: Bring your dog (or kids) to work
Seriously — bring your baby, puppy, or kitten to your next video meeting. ‘Cuteness’ always lightens the mood and functions as a powerful reminder that you all have awesome personal lives.
At some point in your life, you’ve probably bonded with a stranger on Reddit over a cat video. Imagine what real-life ‘cute overload’ will do for your next team meeting.
Step 5: Ask how people are feeling
Wondering whether your team members are feeling lonely? Don’t be afraid to ask. Regular 1:1 check-ins are an absolute must. In addition to talking about work, make sure to get a handle over how your team members are doing personally.
Encourage your team members to be completely open and honest. Make it known that each and every person is valued and won’t be penalized for giving constructive feedback.
Final Thoughts: Identify Gaps and Pain Points
Happiness doesn’t happen by accident. Your team needs to work towards it. Pinpoint specific things that your employees want to fix — and fix them.
What lessons have you learned from being a part of, managing, or leading a geo-diverse team? Share your thoughts as a comment below.