One of the most despised thing in a co-located office is the politics which doesn’t seem to cease. People turn to remote work for various reasons, one of them being less politics and more focus on the work, but does this really hold true? Is remote team completely free of politics and bias as compared to the in-house team? Remote workers are humans after all, they are driven by their own passion, goal, ego and more of a mix of all the negatives and positives.
In this whole charade of politics, what the employees don’t understand is that they are disrupting the amazing culture which has been inculcated over the years through tremendous hard work and fun activities. Such a blow to the company culture not only affects the management but also affects the profitability of the company. Now we usually think that politics only happen when the employees are co-located, being physically distant might be the trick to avoid it, but let’s see how remote teams feed the fire that can give rise to this devastating phenomenon.
01. Cross-Cultural Differences:
When I was interviewing CXOs and developers for our #MakeRemoteWork survey report, I met a developer in the US. She had tremendous experience of working remotely and had been through this roller coaster before. She told me that one of the reasons why it happens is that a team has members from different culture and background, so people sharing similar values get along really well, while those who don’t, feel a bit ostracized. There is still a bias towards, race, religion, country and what not.
These are the things that can break an extremely strong team, what employees need to realize is that they are here to work in synergy and harmony not to judge a person on personal traits and discriminate.
02. Less socialization:
Slack is the virtual office for all the remote workers. You see less of their faces and more of their text messages. Remote workers are generally so involved in their work that they barely talk about their personal lives on the communication channels and talk more about work. In this process, nobody gets to know what the person on the other side is like. We tend to form a perception about that person based on his work and not for the person he is. This is usually one of the reasons that remote employees feel less engaged in activities other than work, which leads to a difference of opinion between the team. So what’s really important here is COMMUNICATION. On a positive note, remote team members are not great on an emotional level compared to their in-house counterparts, so their efforts to influence internal politics are pretty low.
03. Ego Clashes:
Shoutouts and all are cool, but it sucks when a kissass employee gets it over a kickass employee. It’s true that rewarding an employee boosts the morale of not just employee but sets a standard for other employees as well, but when you’re working with a remote team, you should take into consideration the entire team and not just a single member. In the end, everybody is codependent and desires to be appreciated equally. A team is like a Bad Boys movie, we ride together, we die together, bad boys for life!
Now that we know what gives rise to politics in remote teams let’s go through some tips to diffuse these politics.
01. Company culture:
It’s the responsibility of the management to enlighten their employees about the culture that has been established in the company. You shouldn’t let employees learn more about the company through water cooler talks and gossips, this won’t do anyone any good, it will only lead to further misunderstanding of how the company works. So it’s the management or the leader’s responsibility to show his employees the ropes.
Organizations who embrace remote work have advanced technology to make communication easier and seamless within the team, it’s imperative for the team members to use these communication tools not just for work, but to stay in constant touch and build a better team as well as company culture.
03. Focus on work:
It’s no surprise that we are at an organization to work in unison to achieve personal as well as the organization’s goal, so, one of the best things one can do to stay away from all this politics is to focus on the task at hand. At the end of the day everyone wants to feel satisfied and appreciated for the work they have done, and it will only happen when the focus is less on the politics and more the work.
04. Build Trust:
Trust is one of the most important factors behind every team and organization’s success. The organization should plan certain team building exercises which would revolve around making long term or short term strategies and also creating a stronger bond during the entire process. This is a win-win situation for the team as well as the organization.
Politics within a remote team is quite different than the one you’ll encounter in the office, there’s no backstabbing or the usual office drama, although certain cases persist like taking credit for somebody else’s work. It eventually comes down to how well a manager can encourage healthy communication between his team and how well a team can harbor a feeling of trust and respect.