Collaboration has never been more technologically driven than it is today. Through the power of new technologies and tools, you can work with workforces beyond your initial reach. You’re able to collaborate and brainstorm with diverse cultures and perspectives – all with invaluable input. While working with a remote team may come with adjustments to practices and communication, they should always be treated on the same level as your local team. Both can even work in tandem and provide amazing insights to each other.
When working with a virtual team, there are certain remote team practices you should understand. The main point of all of it is to keep your teams – regardless of geographic location – engaged and collaborative. It’s about staying connected and acknowledging their contributions despite the distance.
Familiarise Yourself with New Tools and Technologies
We’re way past simple business emails and online meetings. Since the Pandemic, advancements in virtual collaboration have sky-rocketed. From project management tools to work collaboration tools, there is a virtual solution for every remote problem.
Project Management. Systems like Asana and Trello are designed to keep a remote team on track. These assist teams in organising and keeping track of everyone’s tasks. It makes communication and delegation of tasks seamless and easy.
Communication Tools. Platforms for online communication come in different shapes and sizes. Instant messaging platforms like Slack or Google Chat help streamline communication between team members through instant messaging. Whereas small/large-scale video conferencing platforms like Zoom (as we all know) or Google Meets let you speak to your teams for weekly catch-ups or simply fun team bonding! For a whimsical option, go check out Gather, which is a video game-like communication platform that supports both instant messaging and video conferencing with an RPG twist.
Business Technology News. Familiarising Yourself does not just mean knowing what is already out there. It means being open and updated with the latest in technology. Be on the lookout and pay attention to and test out new virtual platforms, different ways to keep your remote team connected, and the latest in business technology. You can use credible websites such as Wired, Harvard Business, or Tech Times. These sites should keep you on top of or open to new possibilities in the world of virtual collaboration.
Encourage Proper Boundaries for your Remote Team
One of the practices to follow strictly for a remote team is boundaries. When working onsite, there is a clear distinction between work and personal life. As soon as you exit those office doors, work ends. However, working remotely blurs the line between home and office quite a bit. To avoid burnout and overstepping any boundaries, it’s best to delineate and establish restrictions. These restrictions should include modes of communication, work hours, expectations, and work hours.
Boundary 1: Modes of Communication
Certain platforms should remain personal such as social media or other instant messaging sites. Which platforms you will be using to communicate as a team should be established and communicated by you as the leader during the onboarding process. Do your best not to deviate from the established platforms as well – all for a healthier work-life balance.
Boundary 2: Work Hours
Maintain a regular and consistent work structure. As it is common for remote teams to work from different time zones, be sure to establish and sync your team’s work hours through online calendars. Any requests should be made and progressed within the established work hours to avoid burnout.
As the leader, you should encourage your teams to respect these hours to promote healthier work habits.
Boundary 3: Realistic Expectations
Even in physical offices, unexpected events or situations can detour productivity. The problem with these types of events happening during remote work is that you won’t be able to see them immediately. Some things can disrupt online workflow, so be sure to check in with your team for any issues and find a workaround to address them. This may be due to technical difficulties, unexpected events at home, or miscommunication.
Understand that some things may be out of your team’s control, but trust that they are doing their best. So, keep an open line of communication where they can reach you if any problems arise. During onboarding or catch-up meetings, set expectations with your team to be on the same page. This should be the first step in fostering a trusting relationship with your remote team.
Keep Up Remote Team Engagement and Culture
According to Buffer’s 2023 State of Remote Work report, loneliness continues to be one of the biggest struggles in working remotely. Despite 75% of responders feeling professionally connected, developing friendly connections through team engagement is important. Team engagement equates to the level of mental and emotional commitment your teammates have for their role.
An engaged team consists of members who work with passion. How do you cultivate this? By being sincere and valuing their contributions. It may be tricky, but you’ll see that a small bit of sincere effort will result in a team with amazing synergy. It takes time, but here are some engagement activities that can get you started:
- Have virtual coffee breaks
- Celebrate the milestones and achievements of your team
- Hold monthly virtual huddles
- Talk about current events and hobbies during weekly catch-up sessions
- Have a dress-up in theme during meetings
- Hold virtual year-end parties
Be Transparent and Trust in Your Remote Team
Showcasing trust is essential for any team, but especially for remote teams. While it may be difficult, it’s definitely worth the challenge. Through genuine engagement efforts and compassionate interactions, you can never go wrong – even with on-site teams! As long as you are authentically a person, and talk to your team like one, then it will be hard for them not to feel a strong sense of belonging in your business.
It is also sometimes about the things you do not do as a leader. Without any face-to-face interaction, leaders must always trust that their teams are productive and doing their best. Try to avoid micromanaging, constantly asking for updates, and always disrupting workflow. Folks who choose remote teams know that they thrive under these working conditions. It’s best to trust that they can manage their own productivity.
All It Takes is Genuine Respect for You and Your Remote Team
The key to to having proper practices for your remote team is knowing that not everyone needs a physical office to be productive. Some genuinely thrive and work best in the comfort of their own home or their local coffee shop. Much like any other team, your remote team and you should respect each other. As long as your team knows you genuinely value their efforts, they will value yours as you create an engaging virtual work environment.