Berger Leadership Blog

Mar 12, 2021

How strong is your team a year into remote work?

Dan BergerWe've reached the one-year mark on the coronavirus pandemic. For the past 12 months, my organization has worked remotely – like many of yours, I'm sure – and while I certainly miss seeing my colleagues in person, my team has exceeded expectations and goals despite the crisis.

We were fortunate to have a telework policy in place prior to the pandemic, allowing work from home two days a week, and a couple staff members worked full-time remote. Additionally, over the past few years, we'd beefed up our technology and cybersecurity programs to ensure we could access our work systems safely and securely from anywhere.

While these operational capabilities allowed us to transition to remote work seamlessly, the reason for our success is our people. You've heard me tout my organization's hiring philosophy several times before: We hire for attitude and aptitude.

I recently came across this outlining the characteristics of high-performing remote teams and was pleased to see them reflected in my team.

Here are the traits:

  • Active leadership: Good leadership should always be intentional, but remote work makes it even more important. This doesn't mean altering your approach toward micromanagement, but rather finding the right balance to keep your team connected to each other, the rest of the organization, and your members/customers. My company's mission is to provide extreme member service. We haven't let that fall amid the pandemic. Instead, we've encouraged all teams to find opportunities to deliver the products and services our members need via innovative formats. We've been successful because of the culture of collaboration we've created between departments. 
  • Experienced team members: They know how the processes work, they know the issues, they know how to communicate with stakeholders. Newer employees will look to them to get through challenges brought upon by the pandemic. Make sure you're providing them with the support and resources they need to improve pain points, and encourage them to coach others who might be struggling.
  • Telecommute infrastructure: While my organization had a solid tech infrastructure in place for telework, we had to quickly scale up to meet the demands of the entire workforce. Along the way, we've also added new products to streamline collaboration between employees and teams and allow it to happen in real time, such as through cloud services. By ensuring people can access a document at the same time – and make edits as a meeting goes along – you will greatly improve your efficiency.
  • Culture of trust: Strong relationships and efficient products make work much more enjoyable. Promoting common goals, collaboration, and personal and professional support within your office will increase employees' fulfillment and satisfaction. That in turn establishes loyalty and trust with leaders throughout the organization.

There are promises of increased vaccine access in the coming months and hopes of returning to normal soon, but many of the business trends coming out of the pandemic are likely to remain. There are pros and cons to both in-office and remote work structures. As you find the combination that works best for your team and organization's success, look for these characteristics to help you stay on top.

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About the Author

B. Dan Berger, President and CEO, NAFCU

Dan BergerB. Dan Berger first joined NAFCU in 2006 and helped turn the association into the premiere advocate for the credit union industry.

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