Top 5 Ways to Keep Remote & Hybrid Teams Accountable

I’ll say it again: the future (and present) of work is becoming increasingly remote. We have the technology, and the benefits are manifold for businesses and teams alike.

And that means that learning how to manage remote teams and hybrid workspaces has become essential for managers, business leaders, and entrepreneurs. But finding the right balance of productivity, employee engagement, and team accountability is challenging!

So, how do we find that balance? How do we foster a culture of accountability in the workplace when there’s no longer a workplace?

This is an important topic for me because I believe that accountability is the foundation that lets us build a strong foundation. And without that foundation, well…

So let’s talk accountability in the remote workplace! What does it mean, and how can we achieve it?

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Top 5 Ways to Foster Accountability in Remote Work

Team accountability means each team member shares in the responsibility of achieving common goals. This is as true in a remote working environment as within an office. However, without being physically near each other, supporting and holding our colleagues accountable can be difficult. Differences in geography and time zones can make this even more difficult by limiting face-to-face interaction.

However, leaders can effectively build and maintain team accountability with the right approach and tools. Here are my top 5 strategies for holding people accountable within remote and hybrid work arrangements:

Strategy 1: Define Clear Expectations

Defining clear expectations is a crucial first step in building accountability in a remote environment. Remote team members need to know what is expected of them regarding work outputs, timelines, and quality. Leaders should communicate these expectations clearly and regularly to avoid confusion—just as we would for our remote freelancers.

In addition, it can be beneficial to establish expectations for video calls and video conferencing, such as attendance, preparation, and participation. Clarifying these parameters can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and understands their role in achieving team goals.

Remember: if we want someone to meet our expectations, we must ensure they know our expectations!

Strategy 2: Implement Regular Check-ins

Regular check-ins provide opportunities for feedback and enable leaders to monitor team progress. How often you schedule these check-ins is up to you. The frequency could depend on the needs of the company, the team, the project, or the individual. I like to use video calls for check-ins, as they’re more personal—but I recommend learning each team member’s preference.

Remember that these check-ins aren’t just for tracking progress. It allows you and your team to address and resolve any potential issues. It also provides an avenue for you to help support your team, encourage them, and provide them with what they need to overcome these issues.

Strategy 3: Empower Your Team

To truly build accountability—whether remote or in-office—it’s important to create a direct line between your team’s personal goals and the company’s goals. Empowering your team members can help them feel more personal accountability toward their team and their tasks.

To help empower them, consider delegating more than just tasks—delegate authority as well! Encourage them to make decisions on their own. Help them set their own goals and gently push them to reach beyond their comfort zone.

This means trusting your remote team members. This can include letting them set their own workplace boundaries, such as allowing for flexible work schedules when they work from home. Not everyone on your team may be most productive during typical working hours. Allowing them that flexibility shows that you trust them to complete their work independently. This can have the added benefit of increasing productivity and reducing stress.

When employees feel trusted, they’re more likely to reciprocate with higher levels of accountability.

Strategy 4: Foster a Culture of Open Communication

Communication is key in all relationships. This is as true in our work life as it is in our personal lives!

Creating a culture of open communication is crucial for promoting accountability in the workplace. In any working situation, a lack of communication can lead to misunderstandings, frustration, and a lack of accountability. The limited face-to-face communication in remote and hybrid setups provides even more opportunities for misunderstandings than usual.

This is where digital tools come in. Numerous communication tools are available, with many designed specifically for workplace communication. And different tools offer different functionality. For instance, instant messaging apps are great for quick chats and camaraderie. Video conferencing apps are helpful for brainstorming sessions and formal meetings. Project management software often provides a perfect platform for asking task- and project-specific questions.

Ensure your team has access to the apps most beneficial to their needs, and encourage them to use them! These apps allow them to voice their ideas, share their concerns, and ask questions. Open communication can also help create a culture where everyone feels valued, leading to higher accountability.

Strategy 5: Recognize and Reward Accountability

Positive reinforcement is a thing! So, one way to encourage accountability is to give it a positive association in your workplace. When you see a team member showing high levels of accountability—or even stepping up into new areas of accountability they haven’t yet explored—let them know you see and appreciate it.

There are various ways you can show your appreciation. You can:

  • Offer public recognition during a team meeting
  • Provide a monetary bonus
  • Recognize them on your social media pages
  • Unique workplace perks
  • Send gifts—some companies exist solely to help reward team members!

Your imagination is the only limit to recognizing and rewarding your team. So, do what you encourage them to do—think outside the box!

But remember: each team member might have their own preferences for receiving recognition and rewards. If your method for rewarding someone makes them uncomfortable, you could inadvertently give them a negative association with workplace accountability. To help solve this, I’ve included a question on the onboarding survey I send new hires. But it’s your team and your workplace—how you recognize them is entirely up to you!

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