The conditions of a remote team are different for normal workspaces. Colleagues don’t actually meet in person, time zone differences means that schedules are different, and the technology needed doesn’t always work the way it’s supposed to, and activities like Sydney team building aren’t easily accessible.
Google, with its 100,000 workers spread across 150 cities in more than 50 countries, across five continents, is aware of the difficulties of a remote team.
The company tasked their People Innovation Lab (PiLab) to figure out what makes remote team works. The PiLab team spent two years studying more than 5,000 employees, measuring factors like connectedness, performance and general well-being, among others.
PiLab Manager Veronica Gilrane says that the study found no difference in the effectiveness or performance of individuals and teams working in remote teams compared to employees who spend their daily work time with others in the same office. Well-being standards were also similar, with employees managing to balance work and life by prioritizing important things like exercise and good sleep, just like normal work teams do.
This information is useful because remote work, in certain situations, cost far less than traditional work space setups, while improving employee happiness.
Gilrane, however, noted that getting there requires additional effort, with interviewed employees saying that extra energy was needed to establish connections, and schedule work across different time zones, especially since things like Sydney team building isn’t available. On top of that, Gilrane points out that the technology itself can be cumbersome, with faulty sound or video making the conversations that let colleagues know and trust each other seem more troublesome that they’re worth.
According to Gilrane, traditional management techniques still apply to remote teams, but they need to be adapted for the different environment. Namely, they recommend employees getting to know each other, having clear boundaries, and ensuring that people get connected. The team notes that extra time and effort needed for all of these, thanks to the environment of a remote team, and that the people in charge might have to invest time in talking to their employees one-on-one, but it can work.
Gilrane and the team says that, for remote teams, managers leading by example and taking the extra time to know their employees is particularly important.