Remote Work

11 Useful Tips on How To Collaborate Effectively if Your Team Is Remote

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11 Useful Tips on How To Collaborate Effectively if Your Team Is Remote
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11 Useful Tips on How To Collaborate Effectively if Your Team Is Remote

Team leaders need to be prepared to deal with all manner of crises and changing circumstances. This could include the total upheaval of your operations and a transition to remote working. Leaders need to develop a business continuity plan in case they need to rely on remote work collaboration.

While some businesses have been offering remote and flexible solutions for years, this could be brand new territory for you. It’s not all doom and gloom, in fact, studies have shown that offering remote working attracts top talent and can increase productivity.

In order to get the most out of your employees, you’ll need to adjust the way you do things for remote teams. Effective communication becomes vital because you lose social cues from body language.

Let’s take a look at some of the best tips on how to collaborate effectively if your team is remote.

How To Collaborate Effectively If Your Team Is Remote

How To Collaborate Effectively If Your Team Is Remote

Whether you have a fully remote team or you offer flexible working solutions you’ll need a team that can collaborate well. By allowing your team the opportunity to work from home the talent pool increases and you’re more likely to attract top-tier applicants.

Remote working is one of the most sought-after benefits so it’s worth considering if you can offer this. In order to to get the most out of your team here are some tips for team leaders to implement.

1. Invest in the right software and hardware

If you’re expecting your team to use their own home setup you need to consider the limitations they may have. Not everyone has superfast broadband, 8GBs of ram, and two monitors, so how can you assist them? For added security, you may want to consider investing in a VPN to protect company data.

As a result of remote working, you’ll need to invest in software for your team to use. This could include a messaging system, a collaborative workspace, and project-specific software. For example, a design studio may need to provide access to Adobe Creative Cloud.

2. Implement the Agile framework for projects

To help combat the lack of office-based communications, the Agile framework can help to formalize processes and monitor progress. After all, being agile is key to success for remote work collaboration.

The Agile framework is great for large projects because it breaks things down into two-week “sprints.” Assign a “Scrum Master” to ensure Agile principles are adhered to and answer questions the team has.

As a result of Agile principles, your team can refine its processes to make future sprints more productive. It helps staff to work out their deliverables and their daily priorities.

3. Make use of daily standups and meetings…

Daily standups are quick meetings usually held at the start of the day. They’re named this way because typically staff stand up to increase the sense of urgency. Although your staff may not stand up while remote, the idea still remains. A short 15-minute daily meeting for employees to explain what they’re working on and ask any questions they have.

Pro tip: No question is too small.

Make sure any other meetings you hold have a clear purpose. Give them a strict start and end time and stick to it. Don’t let meetings overrun and if people are late to meetings – start them anyway.

4. … But don’t overdo it.

It can be easy to rely too heavily on meetings but holding too many can be overkill. People don’t tend to like meetings so limit how many you have. Before calling a meeting consider if one is necessary. Ask yourself what staff need to be included and if the input is needed from the whole team.

Avoid total control and encourage autonomy

5. Avoid total control and encourage autonomy

Managers will need to let go of the reigns for a remote team to be productive. This will need a level of trust and faith in your team. The good news is productivity tends to improve with remote working because people don’t take it for granted.

It could be worth installing a work tracker if you want to monitor your team’s progress. However, this might not be a welcomed addition by all your employees. Consider using it when a team member’s productivity starts to decline. Otherwise, allow your team the autonomy to work how they want.

Communication for Remote Work Team Collaboration

Communication is at the heart of every team and this will be the biggest change a remote team has to face. When a team is remote there is greater reliance on online communication like instant messaging and emails.

Not only is there a lack of body language but also words can be easily misinterpreted over text. Employees need to consider how their words will be read and adapt accordingly. If someone takes something the wrong way it can lead to problems between staff members.

6. Create training resources for effective written communication

Put together some training resources to improve your team’s remote work collaboration. It may seem a little overkill but some simple training will ensure the entire team is on the same page. Some things to include in your training are:

  • Informal vs formal communications: Your people will differ in how they communicate. People’s tolerance for things like humor can vary widely. Establish communication preferences and encourage your team to adhere to them.
  • Clear instructions: When sharing instructions it will be better to overshare than under. Make sure that instructions are clear and leave little room for misunderstanding.
  • Ask questions: If anything is unclear your team needs to ask questions. Creating a culture of “no question is too small” will help.
  • Double-check: Ask staff to reread their communication to ensure that tone and intent are coming across correctly.
  • Body language: Describe how body language informs conversation and how things change without it. Focus on how to communicate clearly and avoid misinterpretations.

Communications need to be ultra-clear

7. Communications need to be ultra-clear

A lot of things are lost when your team isn’t in the office. It’s not as easy to tap your colleague on their shoulder and ask for some advice. There can be a delay between asking a question and getting an answer. There is a loss of useful office tools like whiteboards, TVs, and information around the office.

With this in mind, it’s important to make sure any internal communication is clear. Staff also need to know where to go to get answers to any questions they have. You could consider investing in some online technology to create a knowledge hub or online whiteboard.

8. Create communications best practices

As remote work team collaboration relies on effective communication it will be worth creating a list of best practices. That way your team has something to refer back to and it will help develop the language your team uses. Here are some ideas of what to include:

  • Common phrases: Include company and team-specific phrases and what they mean.
  • Acronyms: Useful acronyms that the team uses. These could include NNTR (no need to respond), TAT (turnaround time), KPI (key performance indicator).
  • Communication channels: If the team has separate channels for particular projects or team subsets, make sure they know what each one is for.
  • Guidelines: Create guidelines on when emails should be sent, how long to wait for a response, and anything else relevant to keep things running smoothly.

Team Building for Remote Work Team Collaboration

Although team members who work remotely might not get to meet each other, it’s important that know each other. To that end, it’s worth focusing on team-building activities to help develop deeper collaboration and a social aspect of work.

If your team is fully remote and spread across timezones this becomes more difficult, but it’s still possible, and entirely necessary.

9. Virtual team building activities

There are lots of different things you can try to get your team connected and working together. From simple things like a quiz night or an art contest to larger-scale online escape rooms and remote work bingo.

Let your team members suggest ideas and even run the workshops if they have a good idea. Each week you could select someone to run the pub quiz and rotate team members so everyone has a chance to work together.

In the end, this sort of social collaboration helps your team to work better with each other. Productivity increases as your team become more comfortable with one another.

Celebrate personal and professional triumphs

10. Celebrate personal and professional triumphs

Team leaders should take the time to share employees’ news with the wider team where appropriate. This can be great for team morale and it acknowledges people’s lives outside of work. Naturally, you’ll want to share news of someone’s promotion but it can be good to share smaller news as well.

In the event that a team member receives excellent feedback from a client, share this with the team in a specific celebration channel. Alternatively, you could include personal milestones such as someone completing a marathon. Use your best judgment with what people want to be shared and always double-check with them if unsure.

11. New hires may need additional help to connect with the team

When you bring a new member into a remote team it can be quite daunting especially if the role includes a lot of collaboration. The rest of the team will already have their communication norms and the new employee will have some catching up to do.

It could be worth asking one of your outgoing members of staff to take them under their wing. Run some get to know you team building activities and encourage the new hire to get involved.

Conclusion

Start by implementing these tips on how to collaborate effectively if your team is remote. You’ll learn as you go and develop routines that work well for your employees. Allow them the opportunity to suggest processes and refinements. As working from home will mean less in-person collaboration your staff will naturally work the way that works best for them.

Focus on getting the best out of each individual while sticking to company procedures. Some people will thrive under remote working conditions but others might struggle. Keep that in mind when conducting performance reviews and work together to create an effective remote work collaboration system.

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