Remote work is no longer the bogeyman that it used to be. With more and more global businesses warming up to the idea of building distributed teams, remote work is now slowly becoming the norm. In fact, according to research conducted by FlexJobs, there has been a 44% rise in remote work over the last five years. And with the Covid-19 pandemic urging organizations to operate remotely, this trend is expected to stay for the foreseeable future.
However, embracing a remote lifestyle hasn’t been easy for all of us. In fact, some managers are still struggling to establish smooth operations with their distributed teams. And thus, the question arises — How can remote teams overcome the logistical and geographical challenges and collaborate effectively?
Fortunately, it’s easier than you think. By understanding and implementing a few best practices, you can ensure that your teams collaborate and communicate effectively. Studies indicate that 85% of businesses that established basic processes when working with remote teams experienced a noticeable rise in productivity. And so, in this post, we’ve listed five strategies that you can implement with your virtual teams starting today.
Use the right tools
Though this may seem like a no-brainer to many, tools can make or break your remote team. Before you go ahead and build processes and practices, ensure that your distributed teams are equipped with the right set of digital tools. After all, one of the primary reasons why the concept of telecommuting became popular was because of the innovations of digital collaboration software and tools.
Some of the most popular remote collaboration tools include:
This comprises a collection of business tools ranging from Google Sheets to Google Docs, Google Drive, Gmail, and more. When working with remote teams, G-Suite will provide you with all the tools you need to collaborate efficiently, create business documents, send emails, store important information on the cloud, and present ideas.
Asana is a web and mobile application that was designed with the intention of simplifying team-based work management. Simply put, the app helps remote teams track, organize, and manage their work. From Kanban boards to task tracking, Gantt charts, custom forms, and cloud integrations, Asana is one of the best project-management tools for distributed teams.
Zoom is a video chat and conferencing tool that gained significant popularity in the wake of the pandemic. Known as one of the best video conferencing applications, Zoom allows virtual teams to collaborate in real-time, adding a personal touch to online meetings.
Define team schedules
Often, one of the primary concerns regarding remote work is the flexibility that comes with it. While flexibility is definitely an advantage of working remotely for employees, managers and team leads think otherwise. This is simply because they do not implement schedules to ensure efficiency and smooth remote team collaboration.
Now, this does not mean that you ask your teams to work for ten fixed hours every day. Instead, find different schedules that work for your distributed team members and create an overarching plan that works for all. For instance, some of your team members may belong to a different time zone. In such a scenario, implementing working hours where the time zones overlap can prove to be highly beneficial.
Once you’ve figured this out, with the relevant information at your disposal, you can create either daily or weekly schedules to ensure that all the individuals of your remote teams are available for 1-1 discussions or collaborative meetings throughout the week if required. This minimizes the response time and ensures that your team is well-aligned.
Practice crystal-clear communication
Recent research conducted showed that one of the most challenging aspects of work for remote employees is brainstorming sessions. The respondents said that brainstorming sessions are confusing and vague because of the lack of effective communication and often create roadblocks for creative collaboration.
Similarly, using written communication tools such as emails or text messages means that your team cannot understand your tone or body language, leaving messages open to interpretation. While in some cases this can cause small hiccups, in other scenarios, it may even derail an entire project.
So what can you do?
Over-communicate when needed. When you’re drafting or replaying messages, leave no room for misunderstanding. The simplest way to do this is never to assume that the recipient knows the context of the message. Explain in simple terms, and ensure that they understand the importance/urgency of the message or task.
Another way to ensure healthy communication is to use the appropriate tools. For example, rather than having an extended group chat with over a hundred chaotic messages, hop onto a video conference instead.
Focus on team-building activities
Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be in the same room with your team to conduct team-building activities. Team-building activities can even be performed via a video-conferencing app as long as the goal is to build camaraderie among your employees.
No matter how large the company maybe there are various options for team-building options online. Companies like https://escapely.com/ for example, offer virtual escape games to connect your team no matter where they are located around the world.
Some simple remote team-building activities you can organize to boost remote collaboration include on-call coffee sessions, online gaming, virtual show-and-tell, and quizzes. You can even ask your employees to provide creative suggestions.
By following these simple tips and tricks, you can ensure efficient and effective collaboration with your teams, irrespective of where they’re located!