Over the last year, we’ve adapted, learned, and transitioned our jobs in ways we’ve never thought possible. Remote work has become the norm. Teams were picked up, scattered, and put back down across cities and time zones. Physical proximity changed; but overall, teams understood their hierarchy and team dynamic, even remotely.
As companies begin to re-hire and consider permanent remote positions for many people, the bubble of employees who have worked together before and during the pandemic is being altered. Increased hiring across industries is great news. However, the remote setup that was assembled in a hurry isn’t destined for long term growth and overall success of growing teams. Great thought is needed to develop new work norms and creating a culture of fulfillment.
Keeping team members remote for the sake of being remote isn’t enough. There must be purpose and it must be sustainable. Employees who were too afraid to leave their jobs during the height of the pandemic may begin to search elsewhere, upsetting the familiar balance and bond that teams have created over the past year. It is inevitable that new people with join these teams and we must be ready for the impending change.
So, how do you create a remote culture that isn’t just about having employees at home?
Design a strategy
We sent people out of the door with laptops and well-wishes last year. But in any other circumstance, a plan and strategy would have been formulated prior to making such an important decision. Many companies are just getting back to building back their teams. This is the perfect time to take a hard look at what is working and what isn’t. Your strategy should include a basic hierarchy, even within a relatively flat organization. This alleviates any confusion, particularly for any newly onboarded employees. Who do they look to for expectations, for help, and collaboration?
Defining the type of communication that needs to be undertaken is also a critical part of building your strategy. What warrants a phone call, a video chat, or an instant message? Additionally, a system that accounts for employees in different times zones will avoid potential confusion. Communication extends to the expectation surrounding how and with whom files are housed and shared.
Transitioning seasoned on-site employees remotely was challenging, but it wasn’t impossible. Rapport already existed and managers knew their employees’ strengths and weaknesses in the office. It is difficult to imagine treating new employees the same way that as your current team. Be clear about your expectations of work hours, work-product, and goals. Set boundaries by creating check-ins that are scheduled and have a clearly defined purpose.
Individuals Make up the Team
On-site, it is easy to pass by a colleague and read their body language. You can observe if they’re sick, exhausted, happy, or struggling. A successful remote culture means finding new ways to connect with individuals. Individuals make up the larger team. Their struggles and successes need to be addressed and celebrated. Establishing and maintaining rapport with your team builds trust, loyalty, and provides you the opportunity to follow their work more organically.
In-office, you define expectations of work product. Other expectations come naturally as part of the flow of the company’s culture — working hours, lunch breaks, social events, etc. Employees, especially those joining a company now have no reference point as to what is acceptable and expected remotely. Without micromanaging, you can still set expectations from work product to working hours. Be clear about what is expected from day one. Define core hours, methods of communication, performance measurement, check-in frequency, attendance, etc. It is far easier to outline expectations from the get-go.
How many impromptu meetings did you call in the middle of your employees’ day that interrupted their work? Likely, very few. If you wouldn’t call an impromptu team meeting in-office, then you shouldn’t do it virtually either. Will an email suffice until you can get something on the calendar that doesn’t disrupt workflow? With the exception of an urgent matter, consider building in a recurring time slot on your team’s calendar that allows for unforeseen issues. You avoid disruption while also giving your team members a time slot opportunity to raise any issues or bring the group together at a dedicated time.
Build in Professional Development
Virtual professional development through webinars or workshops can feels as tangible as in-person training. But learning and training from one-off questions that occur at the desk are eliminated when the team is working remotely. It is imperative to build a well-defined professional development plan and training process with milestones, check-ins, and support. Beyond the training goals, choosing the appropriate delivery for your virtual team members is vital.
Examine the Virtual Work Environment
The right tools enhance the remote working environment. When we closed office doors last year, we left with laptops and monitors in hand. There wasn’t a second thought about other tools that would help remote workers thrive in their new environment. Examine what tools have been or could have been most beneficial to you when you started to work remotely. These tools range from file management systems, document collaboration, communications equipment, office supplies or something as simple as a desk chair meant for 8 hours of daily work. What do employees no longer have access to at home that they would have otherwise used in-office?
Every team and every team member should have a plan that guides them through remote work from day one. A clear plan defines their professional progression, outlines expectations, and supports them just as they would be supported in the office. Virtual teams need structure and goals in order to find a common purpose to deliver work product and remain engaged within their organization. A company that operates remotely is not equivalent to a company that builds a remote strategy as part of the organization’s operations.
The Talener New York team recently promoted William Ware to Lead Relationship Manager. William has worked hard to build his personal brand at Talener, and his promotion is a reflection of his hard work, strong character, and desire to grow.
We sat down with William to get his take on his development
and what he’s learned about himself over the past few years.
Looking back on your first day here, how do you think
that you have grown personally and professionally?
Professionally, I have grown immensely – both in staffing
and as a businessperson in general. It
is an amazing opportunity to work with clients; learning how to provide the
best service possible to them. I’ve
truly learned to take myself seriously as their business partner.
Personally, my confidence has grown, and I know that I can
talk to anyone about anything. It makes
it so much easier to keep conversations flowing.
What keeps you going when you’re having a rough week
I tell myself that there are ups and downs that come
naturally in a ‘people’ industry. I remind myself to try and stay on course. There
are also so many ways to contribute to my team positively; so, in a down month,
it’s important to see how else I can be useful to the overall success of my
is one thing that you have learned along your career path thus far that you
wish that you had learned at university or from someone in the professional
world before you started working?
I wish I had learned to handle ups and downs and to not to
be emotional or frantic when something doesn’t go right or when I didn’t get
the result I wanted. I think I’ve learned that if my process, habits and hard
work are constant, the end results will come as well. This took me a long time
to properly learn.
are your keys to success?
I think that there are several keys to success – all working
in parallel. I understand where I need to allocate my time in order to have the
most impact on a day. I have also
learned to truly care about my interactions and the impact that I have on my
clients, candidates, and colleagues.
This drives me to deliver for each of these people. Likewise, I’ve had
great teammates and mentors during my time at Talener, and they have helped me
to find my success.
have your communication skills developed?
I am much more direct now. I believe that people are always
looking for clarity above anything else.
I’ve found that I’m much more personable with candidates than I was at
the beginning. I make an effort to get
to know the person and strive to have longer and friendlier phone calls.
do you deal with potentially uncomfortable situations?
I think the best way to deal with an uncomfortable situation
is to dive in head-first. This is an industry in which you are impacting
people’s lives in a very significant way. There are often difficult or awkward
situations that arise. They cease to be uncomfortable the more that I encounter
Tell me about a time that you dealt with an unexpected
Recently, a candidate verbally accepted an offer and we got
the go-ahead to send them an offer letter. However, between the time of verbal
acceptance and written acceptance, he received a call from his dream company
asking him to interview. We worked with
him so that he could interview for the new position, while continuing to manage
and maintain our current client’s expectations.
Our ability to remain calm about the situation and give
things a chance to work out (when it looked like they wouldn’t), gave us an
advantage. We already had a great
relationship with the candidate, and we showed transparency on both sides. In the end, our candidate accepted our offer
over his dream company.
do you see yourself in your new role as a Lead Relationship Manager?
I’m excited to be a Lead Relationship Manager moving into
2020. It’s going to be a great year of growth for our team and I’m excited to
be a part of that. I look forward to training and working with more new hires
as well as growing our client list. I’ve been able to build great relationships
with those on my team as well as with clients and candidates. I hope to
continue doing that this year.
Continuing the tradition of charitable giving through teamwork, Talener New York took part in Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Cycle for Survival at Equinox Bryant Park this past weekend. The 18-person team took to the bikes, having raised over $5,000 towards research to battle rare cancers. All proceeds are used for research efforts within 6 months of the Cycle for Survival event, offering an immediate impact on the lives of rare cancer patients and their families. Friday’s event hosted almost 50 participating teams, bringing the total fundraising to over $33 million for 2017.
New York team leader, and one of Talener’s Directors, Kim Siembieda, reflects on her participation in the event:
“Cycle for Survival is an incredibly inspiring event. It is emotional and powerful to hear firsthand stories from Memorial Sloan doctors and rare cancer survivors. Over the past 4 years I have been participating in Cycle for Survival, it is still so motivating to see so many people come together and rally behind such a great cause. To see the event grow over the years, in terms of participants, money raised and locations across the country, gives so much hope to the battle.”
Amongst four Talener offices, we have raised more than $10,000 for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Donation pages are still open until April 1, 2017. If you would like to donate to the cause, please click here. On behalf of all Talener offices, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your generosity and support. We couldn’t have done it without you!
Graduation season is in full-swing and around the nation commencement speakers are offering words of wisdom to students embarking on the next step of their life journey. U.S. Navy admiral and University of Texas, Austin, alumnus William H. McRaven returned to his alma mater with a powerful speech that will resonate with everyone – from graduating college seniors to seasoned professionals who have been in the workforce for decades.
Among McRaven’s advice are the following life lessons learned during the grueling six-months of basic training:
Start the day right by making your bed. The small chore will kick off a day of tasks and will help things in perspective as a reminder that the little details matter in life.
If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward. Those in boot camp who didn’t pass uniform inspection (which is everyone at some point) are required to trudge through water fully-clothed and roll around in the sand until they are a fully-covered “sugar cookie.” While many complain about the seemingly-meaningless task – those who understand the practice in patience and fortitude make it through to the entire training period.
Sing when you’re up to your neck in mud. Even the most oppressive task can be lightened when a team member rises to the occasion and tries to motivate the team (through song or any other motivational advice).