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How to Encourage a Sense of Ownership in Remote Teams | Guest blog post by Dave Nevogt

Learn how to encourage a sense of ownership in remote teams and make sure everyone does their part of the work. 

Encouraging a sense of ownership in your employees is crucial for making sure that everyone does their part of the work to the best of their abilities, as well as takes responsibility for their role in the team.

While this isn’t easy to do in any type of work setting, it’s especially difficult for remote teams.

Challenges of remote teams

Remote work comes with a particular set of challenges that almost all remote teams are faced with at one point or another. These include:

Communication

Communication is one of the first things to suffer when a team transitions to working remotely.

As is to be expected, team communication is a lot easier when employees are all together in an office.

Remote teams need to rely on technology to communicate. They might use different solutions to do so, such as Slack, Skype, Google Hangouts, or any of the other dozens of communication tools available for today’s remote teams.

The sheer number of communication solutions available to remote teams is actually a part of the problem - communication often ends up being scattered across different solutions, which, instead of improving communication, often makes it worse and causes misunderstandings.

Poor communication can cause a number of issues down the line, including missed project deadlines, increased stress levels, conflicts between team members, feelings of isolation, and low employee morale.

Scheduling

Scheduling also becomes a challenge once teams start working remotely.

Firstly, there’s the issue of team members being in different time zones. This makes collaboration more difficult and creates a short window of time during which communication is possible.

If your company supports flexible work hours, the issue can become even worse because even team members who are in the same time zone might be starting and ending their workday at vastly different times.

This can turn scheduling meetings into a nightmare. It also slows down workflows and can result in entire projects being delayed.

Tracking productivity

If you’re not seeing your employees work, it can be hard to judge how productive they are on a daily basis. 

This makes it difficult to determine whether a particular employee is underutilized, or even worse, procrastinating while on the clock.

Additionally, while some people are more productive when working remotely, that’s not true for everybody. Some people need day-to-day oversight to keep them productive, while others are more disciplined and work better unsupervised.

While accurately tracking how productive employees are isn’t easy to do in an office setting, it’s extremely difficult to do if you’re managing remote employees.

Company culture

Most companies have a general ethos or a set of values they’re looking to maintain and nurture. This can be hard to accomplish with remote teams.

Transitioning to remote work often hurts company culture.

Apart from hurting the company, this also takes a toll on each individual employee.

While almost everyone enjoys the flexibility that comes with working remotely, a lack of social interaction with team members can be detrimental to employees’ mental health and wellbeing.

Being able to communicate and spend time with coworkers is crucial for developing healthy work relationships and maintaining company culture and morale.

4 Ways to encourage a sense of ownership in remote teams

In this section, we’re going to go over four ways you can encourage a sense of ownership in your remote team and get your team members to start taking responsibility for their work.

1) Hire the right people

The easiest way to make sure your team members have (or are able to develop) a sense of ownership is simply to hire the right people. This means focusing on hiring people who:

  1. Are very good at what they do - These individuals require less guidance and are often more disciplined and responsible compared to those who are just average at their job.

  2. Exhibit leadership traits - This includes individuals who display proactive behavior and take the initiative on tasks and projects.

2) Lead by example

The second best way to encourage a sense of ownership in your remote team members is to actually lead by example. 

If you’re the type of manager that’s known to shift blame or make excuses, you shouldn’t be surprised if your employees do the same.

To make sure your employees will be able to work independently and take responsibility for their work and obligations, you need to do the same yourself.

3) Create accountability

It’s also important to create accountability in the workplace.

To achieve this, you need to make sure that each employee understands that their actions have a real and lasting impact on the performance of the company.

You should also set clear expectations for all team members, as well as establish measurable end goals.

This will help to get employees to take their obligations seriously and make sure they complete their part of the work on time.

4) Avoid micromanaging team members

Employees will never develop a sense of ownership if you keep micromanaging them.

Micromanagement only makes team members learn to rely on someone else to complete their work and prevents them from becoming fully independent. It can also have a negative impact on their confidence.

While you should provide help or guidance to employees that ask for it, it’s crucial to encourage and reward independence and proactive behavior.

Encourage a sense of ownership in your remote team

Even though it’s more difficult to create a sense of ownership in a remote team, it’s not impossible. The best way to do it is to make sure you hire the right people, lead by example, create accountability, and avoid micromanaging team members.

This article was written by Dave Nevogt who is the co-founder of Hubstaff. He leads a 100% remote team that builds time tracking and productivity tools, including the Agile project management software, Hubstaff Tasks.

Author: Dave Nevogt

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