Managing Remote Teams for Engagement

“I am seeking advice on how to best keep a virtual team engaged, motivated, but also how to make sure that everyone is ok when social distance can easily lead to loneliness.”

The trend to remote working is unlikely to disappear. In the end, learning how to work more collaboratively and effectively online is likely to open up a world of new possibilities for the future.

Make these Overarching Management Strategies Explicit

  • Clarify roles, set explicit goals and processes
  • Foster a good team culture for communication and engagement
  • Designate which tools will be used for what operational purposes

With these main goals in mind, here are some of my top shared resources. I’m recommending these as a jumping off point as I have found them to ring true from my own virtual event facilitation and community of practice moderation experiences.

  1. This USAID Learning Lab resource is sectioned into three types of engagement tips (with columns for user personas) – one for Day to Day Tips for Building Strong Remote Teams and Engagement, one for During Team Meetings on Tips for Building Strong Remote Teams and Engagement and lastly Using Technology for Better Meetings.
  2. As Julie Wilson points out in 2020 Harvard blog – “Managing a virtual team requires managers to double down on the fundamentals of good management, including establishing clear goals, running great meetings, communicating clearly, and leveraging team members’ individual and collective strengths.”
  3. Head on over to the Learning for Sustainability curated list of resources on Managing Virtual Teams. This outstanding compilation by Will Allen and Margaret Kilvington covers management and operations advice along with resources to help you improve communication cultures for better remote team engagement.
  4. Here’s a brief NPR listen on the essentials of staying connected – ways to be more social to combat the isolation of remote teams. This could spark ideas for ways to offer remote teams and members engagement in more social ways to beat remote working isolation.

Finally, this is a great time to pause and reflect to reorient everyone to bigger picture mission strategies and how their greater engagement improves impact and outcomes.