Building A Culture of Accountability In Remote Teams

Image Credit:

The pandemic created a new expectation employers need to meet: hybrid or remote options.

Startups and enterprises alike heard the call and are now offering hybrid or fully remote job opportunities to their employees. But that doesn’t mean the widespread adoption of remote work hasn’t come with a few hiccups. For example, many companies still struggle with employee engagement.

The only way your business can cash in on the benefits of remote work — like reduced costs, high productivity, and work-life balance — is to adapt the way you work and manage your teams.


What Does Engagement Have To Do With Accountability?

Are your engagement scores high while your company still suffers from low performance? Then you likely have an accountability and employee engagement problem. Here’s what we mean.


Why Do High Engagement and Low-Performance Scores Happen?

High engagement scores coupled with low performance aren’t always an oxymoron. That’s because employees may lie on engagement surveys out of fear of being reprimanded if they say something bad. They may think what they say will backfire and ruin their reputations.


Who’s Typically To Blame for These Low-Performance Scores?

If management is oppressive, depends on micromanagement, or fosters distrust in their team members, it sets a bad precedent. These managers typically don’t trust their colleagues and don’t hold themselves accountable when something goes wrong, even when it’s their fault.

What follows is a culture of “If they don’t care, why should I?”

This may appear as absences or missed deadlines. If no one is reprimanded for this behavior, it continues and worsens.

Engagement will suffer without accountability. If even one person is allowed to break the rules, you’ll create a snowball effect that lowers engagement and accountability for the team.


7 Ways To Create a Culture of Accountability in Remote Teams

Focusing on employee engagement is the best way to increase accountability across your team.

Here are a few remote work ideas that can help you maintain high engagement remotely.


1. Hire Accountable Freelancers & Employees

Building a culture of accountability starts by hiring accountable employees. You can do this by focusing on culture fit and technical skills and experience. Start by looking for people who have a track record of overcoming obstacles, working independently, and owning their mistakes.

You’ll never hire a team that doesn’t need to be managed, but you can find employees that can contribute under your direction. Still, you’ll need to give them the freedom to make mistakes.


2. Create an Easy-to-Understand Policy

Every remote team should have a work policy that’s easily accessible to all employees. Make sure your policy creates boundaries and expectations for when everyone needs to be available and through what channels. Implement a cut-off time, so remote employees have a work-life balance.


3. Let Your Team Communicate Freely

A team that’s too scared to speak up is a team that’s suffering from poor engagement. You shouldn’t be afraid of what your employees have to say about you or your operation; their opinions can make your workplace a fun, productive space for everyone — including you.

With that said, you should give your employees a voice by establishing trust. You can do this by being transparent and apologetic when a poor decision you make causes an issue at work.


4. Make It Simple To Do the Right Thing

Your employees are good people — that’s why you hired them. They may, however, do the wrong thing because they’ve stopped caring or don’t know how to approach a project. You can fix both problems by showing your staff who to speak to when they have a question or complaint.


5. Use Project Management Software

Without a strong project management system in place, it will be hard to hold your remote team accountable. Project management platforms like Asana can help you easily manage small and large projects, while employee engagement tools like Empuls offer peer-to-peer recognition.

Combining both tools is preferred because you’ll need a tool that monitors assigned tasks and creates an open forum for feedback if you want to naturally promote accountability.


6. Set Clear Team Goals and Expectations

Your remote employees may have an idea of what you expect from them, but they won’t know for sure unless you tell them. Use one-on-one meetings to set expectations, remove roadblocks, and provide valuable feedback. Enforce good behavior with shout-outs and rewards, like a PTO.


7. Upgrade Your Employees’ Workstations

In our article about the “remote work gray zone,” we found that most remote employees don’t have their own home office or the ability to cut down on noise-based distractions. Some workers spend almost $300 on workspace upgrades but are not compensated by their employers.

Your employees would be able to meet deadlines faster if they had all the tools they needed in their workplace, so don’t forget to offer a stipend as part of your onboarding benefits package.


This article is part of Buildremote’s contributor series. If you’d like to share some insights about how you run your remote company, learn more here.

About the author

Contributor Series

Add comment