One of the challenges of remote leadership is how to build and maintain a mentally fit team. This is highlighted in a survey by the American Psychiatric Association. It found that while more than half of respondents say their employer is now more accommodating to mental health needs, only one in five has ‘offered additional mental health services’. More than 40% of employees are worried about retaliation if they seek mental health care.
For those working from home, the advantages of doing so are accompanied by feelings of loneliness and isolation and difficulty withdrawing from work for personal time. Almost two-thirds of remote workers say they feel like this at least some of the time, while 17% report feeling this way all the time.
What do you need to have in place to ensure your team is happy, healthy, and meeting its goals?
1. Start by Hiring the Right People
Hiring positive, like-minded people is a solid foundation for building a mentally fit remote team. People who have an optimistic outlook, and a strong social circle of friends and outside interests, typically adapt more easily to remote working.
Candidates who work well under their own initiative, and are conscientious, proactive, and collaborative team players, make excellent remote workers. Try to secure as many of these traits in your team members as you can when you’re hiring.
2. A Positive Virtual Culture
Building on the foundations you have laid by hiring independent, positive team members with complimentary experience and skillsets, the next step is to cultivate a strong team culture. Here are some tips to help you achieve this:
- Create a value-driven culture through shared mission statement, objectives, and goals
- Promote core values of the business and instill them at team level
- Run an employee recognition and reward program
- Create slack channels to replace office banter and casual chats
- Hold regular brain dumps and idea sharing sessions
- Host face-to-face get-togethers a few times a year
- Promote co-worker support channels
3. Provide Clear Expectations
Successful remote leadership hinges on strong working relationships with your team members. Setting clear expectations is key to successful team management. Before you start working with your virtual team, make sure that you plan how to communicate expectations.
Communicate verbally and in writing about what is expected from them. Ensure that your people have a clear understanding of these expectations by asking them to repeat back what you have explained.
4. Communication and Collaboration
A good remote leader should look to prioritize forming relationships across the team for better mental health. Social isolation can lead to increased struggles with mental health, so encourage team members to talk to you and each other on a regular basis.
Hold regular team building events to help employees bond and form relationships with one another and to promote communication and collaboration. This can lead to better friendships, greater support in times of need, and a general sense of teamwork.
5. Keep Connected
Keep your team connected with remote communication tools which allow for instant, real-time working. These include instant messaging tools, team collaboration software for project management, and cloud-based storage tools for shared access to information.
Remote leaders should also make an extra effort to stay connected with their employees. Remember, your people cannot knock on your door to have a quick chat. Therefore, it’s incumbent on the remote leader to ‘knock on the door’ of their remote employees – and make sure that all is well, and that they are provided with enough support. A daily catch-up takes only a few minutes.
6. Work/Life Balance
Research has shown that a healthy work-life balance has a great effect on factors like job satisfaction and stress levels. Achieving this balance will also help to motivate and inspire employees to be more productive.
Make sure you set strict work times to protect employee work-life balance. Use work tools and systems that allow people to protect online and offline time.
It’s easier to forget the time when you’re working remotely. That said, a key benefit to remote working is flexible working hours. Therefore, taking time out for exercise, family commitments, and the ability to ‘make the time up’ later also needs to be factored in – ensure that you encourage your virtual team to do all of these things.
7. Mental Health Policies
Employee well-being and good mental health is key to the success of your business. Protecting the mental health of your workers is a top priority when looking to create a great employee experience and should be implemented from the top down.
This can be done though:
- Making mental health benefits available through the health insurance plan
- Providing access to telehealth or online therapy
- Developing Employee Assistance Programs to help with stress management, marital and family problems, depression, substance abuse, child and elder care, and legal and financial issues
- Having a company well-being platform – offering tips and techniques on mindfulness, meditation, resilience, sleep coaching and general wellness training
- Providing access to fitness and exercise classes or facilities
At TECHEAD, we have years of experience of building, developing, and maintaining remote teams. When we work with clients, we use this experience to ensure that they benefit from the best person for remote working in the hiring organization. We take a consultative approach and share our market intelligence to help you achieve success.
To learn how we can help you develop a high-performing remote team, contact TECHEAD today.