How to keep your remote team engaged, supported and connected

Do you know if your remote accounting team is thriving or simply surviving?

Like everything at your accounting firm—from your processes to your tech stack and everything in between—your remote or hybrid working model isn't a ‘set and forget’ situation.

Ask yourself:

  • Is your team relishing remote work, or are they just getting by?

  • Are they as productive as they can be?

  • Are you confident you are doing all you can to support them?

  • Or do you feel that there are parts to their work setup that need additional enhancements?

Here are three areas of focus to ensure your accounting team is set up to thrive in a remote environment.

The 3 infrastructure pillars you need to successfully run a remote or hybrid accounting team

First things first, whether your team has moved to a hybrid model or is now 100% remote, there are three infrastructure pillars that will enable success:

  1. Physical infrastructure

  2. Tech infrastructure

  3. Support infrastructure

Physical infrastructure

Your remote team should have the physical essentials necessary for remote work. This includes tools and equipment supporting their ability to work effectively and comfortably from home. At a minimum, this includes the basic equipment: a laptop, monitor, mouse and keyboard.

Tech infrastructure

Providing tools and software that foster effective collaboration, communication and productivity with other team members and clients is a must. These will keep your team in sync and organized to deliver quality work on time.

This includes creating and adhering to strict security protocols and proper training, so your data remains secure, and your employees, clients and firm are protected from the risk of cybercrime.

Support infrastructure

This is the most overlooked infrastructure. Your support, help and confidence are three of the most empowering and motivating factors you can provide to your remote team members.

As part of solid support infrastructure, your workplace culture might benefit from some surprisingly simple changes.

Strengthen your support infrastructure pillar at the individual level

While you may be comfortable knowing your remote team members have their physical and tech infrastructure needs met, how do you get a pulse on their needs for social interaction?

Start by getting an understanding of each individual’s needs. To build authentic relationships with your team members, ask the following questions about each individual employee: 

1. What stage are they in their career?
Younger, less experienced team members might crave more frequent communication that includes training and mentorship and the ability to ask lots of questions.

Without the ability to do a ‘fly-by’ to their manager’s office, they might need extra encouragement to reach out for help.

2. What is expected from their role?
Does their role require them to be more people-focused or process-focused? Does the nature of their work pose unique challenges when working remotely?

For those with strong social skills who thrive in face-to-face meetings with colleagues and clients, mixing it up with a variety of video conferencing and social tools can help increase their satisfaction.

3. What are their preferences and limitations?
This can be learned best through a one-on-one conversation with your team members.

Asking questions allows you to dig deeper into their emotional and personal drivers such as childcare challenges, home office or remote space constraints, and preferred work hours to maximize productivity.

Remember, to reach your firm’s goals, you need an engaged and aligned team. While it takes additional effort when the team is outside of a physical office space, there are many ways to keep everyone socially connected.

Create a socially connected culture for your remote workers

Even in a virtual workplace, you can boost your accounting team’s communication by finding genuine ways to connect that will build new or deepen existing relationships.

Create a buddy system 

Encourage or even assign team members to each other so they can buddy up. Consider thinking of creative reasons to pair them up that are beyond job function. They might share a hobby, for example. Once you’ve buddied them up, encourage them to set up a virtual coffee catch-up, where they can get to know each other. 

Express your recognition and gratitude

When things aren’t going well, it’s important that you address the problem by coaching your team, refining your processes, and reassessing your tech stack.

But as important as critical feedback is, positive recognition is arguably on-par in its ability to make-or-break your firm.

And just because your team is remote, doesn’t mean you don’t have the opportunity to recognize their efforts. Rather than congratulating them in your boardroom, you can do it during your weekly whole team Zoom call, or even on a dedicated Slack channel.

Remember to have fun

Just because you can’t be in the same room, doesn’t mean you can’t have office banter. There are many ways you can create fun and engaging virtual events or celebrations with your team.

This takes more time and effort to organize, so consider empowering different departments to take the lead each week. Challenge them to create new and fun virtual team-building sessions.

Get everyone involved

As your firm’s leader, it’s important to establish two-way trust. That is, you trust your team, and they trust you. In a remote setting, it’s perhaps more important than ever.

Encourage your team to take ownership and accountability for their actions and attitude each day. They should feel empowered to actively participate in enhancing your firm’s culture.After all, while you set the vision, tone and framework for your business, your employees are the ones who bring it to life

Recommended reading: How to build an autonomous accounting firm culture

Keep an eye on mental health

Most importantly, don’t overlook the importance of your employee’s mental health and well-being. Feelings of isolation and burnout are the biggest risks to your remote workers. These aren’t always easy to spot on a video call, so learn the red flags to watch out for and train your managers and people-leaders to do the same.

Maintaining your culture for remote workers is an ongoing process

Your company culture is an intangible but critical element to your organization. It's the essence of your firm and as such, needs to continue evolving to meet the needs of your team. In a remote work environment, your ability to maintain a strong culture can be more challenging than ever.

But, by taking a fresh perspective and leveraging new ways to keep your team engaged, supported and connected, you’ll set your firm up for future success.