Awny receiving his Hargraves Innovator Award

How To Lead a Thriving Remote Team

Many of us are now accustomed to working remotely. While it was not our decision to do so, it’s definitely here to stay. But whether you’re leading a remote team, or working in a remote team, everyone can contribute to help the team thrive. 

Once upon a time, team building was obvious and routine. But as many workers look towards remote work as the default, the new world of work will be ‘blended teams’. Blended thriving teams challenge leaders to deliver even better collaboration; blended team-building needs to be interactive and engaging, and focus on each individual’s unique situation. 

To succeed, leaders of blended thriving teams do four things well:

  1. Visualisation
  2. Involvement
  3. Alignment
  4. Recognition

Seeing is believing

Video and webinars are great, however talking heads can become boring after a while. While a typical meeting room usually has a whiteboard, using a virtual whiteboard ensures greater engagement and higher productivity for both online and blended meetings. As well as participants a point of focus, virtual whiteboards provide opportunities to contribute with a visual record for review and sharing.

In face-to-face teams, leaders are seen; leaving their door open, wandering around the office or dropping by the desk for a chat. In blended remote teams, leaders need to create formal and informal opportunities to be ‘seen’. Scheduling one-on-ones, online coffee catch-ups, regularly engaging with team-members through digital collaboration, commenting and posting create an online open-door approach for leaders to connect with blended and remote teams.

Breaking the ice

Team building activities usually start with an icebreaker. An icebreaker is an exercise or game, designed to get everyone involved and warm up the group for the task they are about to commence.

Remote icebreakers directly impact the results of team collaboration, allowing participants to build informal conversations and relationships, warm to the group, and project their personality.

Icebreakers are especially crucial for new team members, offering an opportunity to ‘meet’ and get to know new colleagues and explore shared interests.

(Learn more about icebreakers.)


‘Aligning’ means you agree on what is important, what to do first, and what to do next. Simply having a shared physical or online space does not automatically mean that people are aligned.

Teams develop a commitment to their team and strategy through understanding goals, blockers, strengths and opportunities, build alignment as they go.


It’s hard to see some of the great work people are doing when they’re not in front of you. You can’t pat someone on the back when they aren’t nearby. An emoji doesn’t replace a heartfelt ‘thank you’ or a round of applause. And while some team members are confident to share their successes, many are often reluctant to show off their work, shout out praise or seek recognition.

Recognising work, achievements and effort, and sharing stories, brings people together, imparts knowledge and helps leaders understand where and how innovation is happening.

(Learn more about the value of employee recognition.)

See Also

More insights on #remoteworking and blended teams.

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