Two remote workers discuss teamwork and their job while drinking tea.

7 Tips for Creating Effective Team Environments that Support Remote Workers’ Mental Wellbeing

Christy Johnson
September 5, 2023
July 26, 2023

This blog post was written by Christy Johnson, Counselor at Nivati. You can see more of their content on the Nivati platform and on the Nivati blog. If you want to learn more about Nivati, click here.

The rise of remote work has profoundly impacted how a culture of teamwork is developed within an organization today. In the past, collaboration was primarily influenced by employees working together in person. Now, organizations are utilizing more asynchronous methods of collaboration than ever. This report suggests that the number of Americans working remotely is expected to reach 36.2 million by 2025. That would be an 87% increase from pre-pandemic levels. To keep up with the advancements of an increasingly remote workforce, it is imperative to investigate and adopt new and innovative ways of creating a sense of teamwork that is inclusive of remote and hybrid workers. 

Misconceptions About Remote Work and Mental Health

  • Remote Workers are Less Productive and More Distracted than Office Workers: This is a negative stereotype refuted by research. Studies show that remote workers can be just as productive as office workers and even more productive. This study found a 13% improvement in performance from people working at home. It attributed this to employees adhering to their schedules when working remotely and having fewer distractions.

  • Remote Workers are Less Connected or Engaged Than Office Workers: A Stanford University study points out that remote workers are less likely to leave their job for another, finding a 50% decrease in attrition among home-based workers. In this survey, 81% of employees reported that they would be more loyal to their employer if they had flexible work schedules, including hybrid and remote options. 

  • Teamwork, Collaboration, and a Sense of Community are Not Important For Remote Workers’ Wellbeing: Like office workers, it is just as important for remote workers to feel connected to their team and their organization. Employees are more likely to experience better emotional wellbeing when teambuilding behaviors are encouraged, and opportunities are provided for workers to connect. This study highlights how teambuilding behaviors in clinical workplace settings were linked with decreased stress, burnout, and anxiety symptoms. 

The Importance of Teamwork for Employees, Leadership, and Organizations

Teamwork is essential in the corporate environment; it positively impacts employee wellbeing and benefits the organization through increased employee productivity and creativity through collaboration. Teamwork facilitates a more positive work environment and can help employees feel connected and invested in their work, leading to lower turnover and increased job satisfaction.  

How an Effective Team Environment Can Boost Company Productivity and Morale

Creating a positive team environment boosts employee morale and increases employee engagement and individual and team productivity. Employees who work together experience increased innovation and better problem-solving through collaboration. These outcomes have been shown to lead to overall improved customer service and client satisfaction as a result of collaborative efforts. 

Teamwork also prevents attrition and employee turnover. When employees decide to stick with a company, it makes it easier for HR and leadership by freeing their time from the burdens of recruiting, interviewing, and training new employees.  

How Effective Teamwork Can Support Remote Workers' Mental Health and Wellbeing

Creating virtual spaces for remote workers to connect is part of a more humanized and supportive shift in how we think about work schedules and employee output. Providing employees with opportunities to connect and feel like a part of the team helps prevent isolation and encourages cooperation. Effective teamwork can help reduce stress and anxiety in remote workers because they feel like they are part of a team and are not alone.

Understanding how remote work can contribute to better work-employee experiences and encouraging a sense of teamwork for remote workers is an excellent way to support employee wellbeing as well as organizational goals. 

Best Practices For Teamwork in a  Remote or Hybrid Work Environment

The basic components of an effective team environment generally include clear and open communication, trust, collaboration, leadership, and support. Team members need to be able to communicate well with each other in order to share information, problem-solve, and make decisions. Collaboration is the ability for teams to work together and achieve common goals. Leadership and support help work groups by providing motivation, guidance, encouragement, and feedback. 

To be their most effective, teams must also have diversity and inclusion, a clear purpose or common goal, and acknowledgment and celebration of successes. A diverse and inclusive team is open to creativity and innovation and a more welcoming and supportive work environment. With a clear purpose, team members understand how their work contributes to a larger shared goal, and this can motivate them to stay engaged and focused on their work. Remembering to celebrate successes increases morale and leads to a happier, more positive environment. 

7 Tips for Encouraging Teamwork in Remote Work Settings:  

  1. Encourage and provide time for connection: Find ways to provide employees with opportunities to participate in collaborative activities such as coaching and mentoring, partnerships on projects, sharing ideas together, group training, and networking. According to this survey, companies that saw greater productivity both for individual employees as well as for teams were ones that focused on sustaining relationships built on small interactions between colleagues.

  1. Schedule time for check-ins: Members of leadership can provide support, encouragement, motivation, and feedback to remote employees by scheduling time in their calendars to have regular, periodic check-in meetings.

  1. Utilize asynchronous and creative means of connection: Remote employees can gain a sense of inclusion and be informed when they receive regular communication from leadership. This could include a monthly newsletter, a chat feature for team members, or online events and webinars. Investing in technology helps remote workers by providing the tools and tech they need to be successful.

  1. Promote self-care and social engagement: Talking to team members and providing educational resources about the value of social connection and collaboration in the workplace helps set the tone of the company culture as one that values connection and teamwork. 

  1. Set clear expectations and boundaries around communication procedures: Let remote workers know when leadership is available and provide clear and easy access to their contact information. Letting team members know clearly when they can reach out to leadership helps them feel comfortable doing so, and modeling healthy boundaries around work-life balance and hours of availability sets a good example for self-care relating to remote work schedules.  

  1. Let your employees know you trust them and provide them with autonomy: Letting your employees know that they are trusted makes them feel like a valued part of the team and allows them to have a sense of personal investment and accountability for their contributions to team efforts. 

  1. Celebrate successes as a group: Foster a sense of teamwork by letting your employees know when one of their colleagues has had success. Share positive feedback publicly and give your employees reasons to celebrate and congratulate one another for a job well done. 

For more on cultivating a strong sense of company culture that includes remote workers, this article explores How To Keep Company Culture Strong When All Employees Are Remote

Cultivating a culture that leverages teamwork in remote environments can lead to positive outcomes both for employees and companies. By following the tips outlined in this article, organizations can create team environments that support the mental health and wellbeing of remote workers, leading to improved communication and collaboration, reduced stress and anxiety, increased motivation and productivity, and improved work-life balance. 

In addition to the tips in this article, organizations can provide their employees with education and access to mental health resources. By giving remote employees access to mental health resources, such as tools, training, provider information, and services, forward-thinking organizations can support their employees' wellbeing and encourage prolonged future success. 

Read more: Managing Stress and Emotions When Working Remotely 

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Christy Johnson
Christy Johnson
Christy Johnson is a licensed master social worker and mental health counselor that specializes in helping individuals increase feelings of safety and security in their bodies to help manage symptoms of depression, anxiety, anger, grief, and other difficult life challenges. Christy brings to the table a special focus on neuroscience, mindfulness, and real-world practices for emotional regulation and stress management. Christy graduated from New Mexico Highlands University with a Masters degree in social work in 2021 and currently practices as a mental health therapist.