Zero Distancing – high performance in distributed teams
How do you make sure everyone stays connected in a dispersed team?
In the months to come we will be massively switching from mandatory work from home to a mix of home and office. This is a great development. More time for personal life, less traffic jams, higher productivity.
But disconnection is lurking. Working from different locations demands more of us than we were used to.
In recent months, our schedules have been filled with scheduled calls. No more spontaneous chats at the coffee machine.
How do you prevent your employees from experiencing your “distributed enterprise” as full weeks of scheduled online and offline meetings about KPIs? And slowly giving up …?
By continually working to connect. And by working together to achieve results.
Below you will find some practical advice on how to keep you connected and performing.
First, the “Staying Connected” category – tips for staying in touch despite distance. Second, the “Getting Results” category – tips to ensure you and your team(s) continue to make progress. And finally, your path to Zero Distancing at work.
1. Stay connected
a. Take virtual coffees
In the office you have chance encounters like those at the coffee machine. Then you have a spontaneous conversation. You do not have to plan everything. Knock on your team members’ doors once in a while and ask how the colleague is doing. Ask if work from home is going well, to what extent he/she has the energy and resources to do his/her job. If you are leading a team, make sure you have regular one-on-one conversations with all team members.
b. Organise online get-togethers
Agree not to talk about work, say whether family members and pets are welcome. You can even choose a theme, such as “favourite movies” or play an online game.
Be careful: if you organise a get-together, make sure everyone feels welcome, even if they don’t drink alcohol. Be creative!
c. Give more compliments
Team members grow through feedback. Stay alert to keep giving compliments. Not too comfortable with sharing your appreciation? Then practice it and make it a new habit. Compliments can be given in online team meetings, but of course they can also be given in one-on-one meetings in between.
2. Achieving results together
To achieve results together, to realise goals, there are three important – and timeless – success factors:
a. Create clarity
Look at your annual plan, adjust goals if necessary, discuss them with each other. Limit the number of goals and be clear in the wording. Keep a record of them. That way everyone knows what the intention is.
b. Increase ownership
Challenge teams to translate short-term organisational goals into initiatives with a clear outcome. Help team leaders develop these initiatives into clear agreements with team members. Keep a record of these agreements. That way, everyone knows their part.
c. Establish a rhythm
Make sure there is a regular “heartbeat” in your organisation. Ask the teams in your organisation to organise short weekly meetings. In these check-ins, team members can discuss the status of initiatives and their agreements. And then go over any requests for help and the agreements for the upcoming period. That way, everyone knows where the team stands.
3. Zero Distancing
This practical advice tips will keep you stay together even when working remote. We call this zero distancing. By this we mean keeping each other well informed and helping each other progress. Think of team members checking in each week, sharing progress, discussing questions, and asking for help. They climb the mountain together and stay close to each other. At zero distance. Without getting on each other’s nerves. Safely in close proximity. And that is most certainly not a crime.