5 Ways to Uplift and Empower Remote Teams 

In 2021, 47 million Americans quit their jobs, beginning what many have called the ‘Great Resignation’. And in an effort to attract and retain talented employees, companies around the world, including Airbnb and Twitter, have now made hybrid and remote work a central part of their workspace philosophy. But how can managers who have never managed remote employees actively support their teams and help them flourish in this new environment?

At Zoom, we are lucky to have a cadre of talented managers across our teams who are virtuosos in the art of managing and supporting remote employees.

Here are some insights from a few of Zoom’s leaders on how you can help your remote team do their best work, feel connected to their team, and develop their skills and abilities: 

1. Recognize the hard work of your remote team members

Remote working provides employees with unprecedented flexibility. But without a frequent reminder of how their contributions impact the organization and their team, it can also leave remote team members feeling isolated from their teammates and disconnected from their work. 

Taking opportunities to recognize the contributions of individual team members shows that you are paying attention to their work and appreciate their efforts. This can include acknowledging their contributions by tagging them in company emails, group chats, and other venues, such as all-hands or team meetings, or even just sending a congratulatory chat.

“At the end of the day, it is critical for Zoomies to feel seen and embraced by their managers. We want each one of them to know they are cared for and understood so that they can show up to work excited to ‘go above and beyond,’ not only for Zoom, but because they are noticed for it.  While recognizing workspace achievements is important and can lift employees up, equally as important is celebrating personal milestones such as work anniversaries, birthdays, or glowing customer references, which can help remote employees feel included and more connected to the team.”

Jodi Rabinowitz, Global Head of Talent & Organizational Development • Human Resources

2. Encourage self-care 

Your home is your office for most remote workers. That can make you feel like you are living at work, and no matter how much you love your job, nobody wants that — it can quickly lead to burnout and leave even the most resilient worker feeling depleted. 

Showing your remote team that self-care is a priority will empower them to manage their work-life balance more effectively and take care of the personal errands and tasks that enable them to be the best person they can be. Encouraging your team to take time during the day for personal matters such as going to the gym, attending a child’s soccer game, dealing with home repairs, or going to the doctor will help them feel more comfortable taking time off and help them recharge. 

“To show your team it’s okay to take personal time, you need to lead by example. Block out your lunch on your calendar, turn off your camera when you’re feeling burnt out or overwhelmed, go for a walk during a one-to-one meeting. Show them that booking a staycation to do nothing but recharge is more than okay — it’s a good thing! Leading by example allows the team to know that culture is encouraged and that you want them to do the same things for themselves.”

Michelle Dotson, Head of GTM Enablement + Strategy • Sales Enablement

“What I’ve noticed is that remote teams have a problem with being ‘always on’. We’re still exploring how to manage communications remotely, but we have some basic guidelines for folks for our global team. If we have team members in Europe who are posting questions or messages, our North American folks don’t have to respond right away, and our Asia-Pacific team members don’t have to respond on their Saturday when it is our Friday. Leaders have to practice this as well — by setting the example for your team, they will see that ‘always on’ is not expected.”

Mandy Yeung Garby, Sr. Manager, Global Architects • Solution Engineering

3. Celebrate your wins, learn from your losses

“You win some, you lose some” couldn’t be more true in sales. And while it might be tempting to exclusively celebrate your victories with the team to keep morale high, sharing your losses is equally important. 

Taking time each week to go over the hits AND misses of the week with your team can help them feel more comfortable sharing potential pain points, provide context for important lessons or strategies, and help them emerge victorious from their next pitch. It can also help remote team members feel more connected to what’s happening across the team and create opportunities for them to come up with solutions. 

By sharing your mistakes, you can also help reinforce the critical lesson that failure is part of success. As Winston Churchill once said, “Success is all about going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”

 “This really helped our team be open about challenges they are facing that perhaps others are as well and encourages cross-team collaboration. Making that space and having the culture to share both your highs and lows is crucial in the remote work world. As leaders, we need to learn how to hold ourselves and our team accountable (without blaming them, of course) when a task or project doesn’t have the right outcome. We need to focus less on assigning blame and more on equipping teams with the knowledge and tools they need to keep the problem from happening again.”

Mandy Yeung Garby, Sr. Manager, Global Architects • Solution Engineering

4. Create opportunities for learning and development

Every successful professional, regardless of their role or industry, has the same thing in common — they are extremely adept at engaging in opportunities to gain feedback and learn valuable lessons and strategies. But how can you provide effective feedback and development opportunities remotely? 

With a wide range of communication mediums available, including phone, chat, video, and email, you have plenty of ways to offer and provide feedback. For example, you can offer quick tips or critical product and messaging information via chat or email, while more complex strategy or feedback discussions, such as one-on-one feedback sessions, can be done over video. You can also provide specific resources such as coaching sessions, webinars, or in-person conferences for your remote team to help them develop the specific skills they need to continue growing in their career. 

 “I always try to provide very relevant and topical pieces of information that could be easily digested for my team. In a short form message, I might send a message about the top ways to introduce Zoom Phone to your prospective account list. I will also send out different types of emails that I get from people that are pitching to me, and I’ll forward them to my team and I’ll ask them what they think of it, how they would critique it, would they give this person any pointers. It uses real-life information and real-life people to create a brainstorming session that not only gets the team thinking, but also creates an atmosphere where they can teach and develop each other as well.”

Garrett Graston, Manager, Commercial • Commercial Acquisition

5. Create connection to build trust

Remote work is unique in that it inherently requires a high level of trust between managers and their employees. Managers must trust their employees to meet their responsibilities and put forth their best effort with minimal supervision, while employees must trust managers to guide, direct, and lead their efforts. 

Building trust with someone you’ve never met in person or barely know might seem difficult, but the secret lies in creating human connection just as we would in person. By sharing details and anecdotes about yourself during meetings, and in turn asking your remote team members to share some details about themselves, you can help them develop a better understanding of each other and yourself as well. 

And remember, nothing says “I trust you” like allowing your team to make decisions and take charge. Allowing them to make first contact with a prospect, try new sales techniques, or decide how to approach certain objections in the sales process will make them feel as though you trust them to succeed, which will, in turn, earn their trust. 

“Managing remote teams relies 100% on trust. And the quickest way to earn trust is by getting to know each other on a personal level and building team memories. Hosting team meetings not about work, sharing pictures of vacations and pets in team chats, highlighting a member of the team with a special talent — all of these break down the part of remote work that can feel disingenuine and creates strong bonds between members of the team.”

Michelle Dotson, Head of GTM Enablement + Strategy • Sales Enablement

“One of the things you’ll hear from Eric Yuan, our CEO, time and time again is the speed of trust — the concept that if there’s no trust, there is no speed, and customers will not stay when there are challenges. And when an employee can trust that their employer or their manager is going to listen to them and empower them to make decisions in whatever capacity that best suits them, they’re going to work more efficiently and much harder for you. If you can trust your employees to make those right decisions, they’ll be more fulfilled than if you try to micromanage.”

Garrett Graston, Manager, Commercial • Commercial Acquisition

Despite life’s challenges, work finds a way

Whether your team is at home, in the office, or somewhere in between, these tips can help you build a dynamic, empowered, and effective team, while also enhancing your skills and effectiveness as a leader. 

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