Research suggests that remote teams have the capacity to outperform their office counterparts, so long as they posses task accountability and team cohesion. Obtaining these results within remote employees can pose a challenge to managers. This post will discuss why cohesion is so critical to the success of a remote team, and how managers can foster a sense of community in their field representatives.
Why Does Cohesion Matter?
One of the primary reasons remote field reps need to feel connected to each other is for the sake of organizational goal achievement. Employees who are connected to each other are likely to work together to accomplish enterprise-wide objectives. What’s more, field reps who are pursuing a common goal can motivate one another to work harder. Some employees may even choose to coach others who encounter roadblocks using tips for success that have worked for them in the past. To the previous point, team cohesion encourages cooperation. Additionally, it can be a catalyst for healthy competition amongst team members, which can increase productivity as reps will work harder to earn praise and other rewards administered by management.
When intra-team cohesion is present as it is with traditional office employees, field reps will feel more engaged with their work. Engagement is critical to maintaining morale and preventing feelings of isolation. If employees feel comfortable approaching their team members and managers for help when needed, are recognized for their hard work, and are engaged in what they are doing, they are likely to stay on with the organization. In fact, a study conducted by CEB found that employees with lower engagement are four times more likely to leave their jobs than those who are highly engaged. Employee retention is especially important for field-based teams who cultivate relationships with clients that are vital to the health of a business.
How To Reinforce Camaraderie
After discovering the significance of remote team cohesion, how can managers implement it with their reps? Communication is the answer. First and foremost, there is simply no substitution for face-to-face communication. However, this is not a common phenomenon for field reps who work independently of each other. It is the responsibility of managers to facilitate regular in-person interactions for their remote team members. Meetings of remote teams should always begin with a brief check-in to see how reps are doing, what challenges they are facing, what recent successes they have had, etc. These exchanges help build trusting relationships among team members. In addition to task-oriented meetings, managers can also invite remote teams out for lunch or coffee so they will have the chance to converse casually. Since casual employee communication is typically absent during the field reps’ work days, offering these types of opportunities can fill the social gaps often encountered by field reps.
Another way to promote collectivity in field teams is through the use of technology. Connecting on social media is a great way for employees to informally interact with one another and share their experiences. If reps are able to have open discussions that aren’t centered around work-related topics, they will forge tighter bonds. As previously mentioned, these bonds translate to heightened engagement and productivity. Employing a mobile software solution with instant messaging functions also allows employees to communicate informally with each other and with management. This capability is particularly useful during the workday, as reps can consult their colleagues or managers instantaneously when problems arise on the job. Again, by utilizing effective channels of communication, field reps will feel a sense of team belonging and be motivated to perform their duties as effectively as possible.
For remote teams to truly operate as a cohesive unit, employees must cultivate personal bonds with each other. This can be accomplished with face-to-face meetups, via social networks, or with instant messaging. If field reps are able to establish camaraderie, they will be supportive of each other and more dedicated to accomplishing long-term organizational goals.
Victoria is a Marketing Associate at Repsly, where she leads the company's P.R. and social media efforts. You can also catch her prepping for slew of exciting industry events. A New England native, Victoria has spent time living in Italy and traveling throughout Europe before settling back in Boston. When she's not planning her next trip, V is probably tasting wine or brushing up on her Italian.