Managing a team or project is a pretty hard thing in itself. The more complex it gets, the more difficult it becomes to keep track of what happened and what’s happening. And when it comes to remote teams, things don’t get any easier.
Managing a remote team is actually 10X harder and trickier. Everyone is sitting in a distinct location, they don’t interact face-to-face, and it takes some serious efforts to impose the core working principles and get jobs done. However, having a remote team has its own specific benefits. These benefits include:
- Access to a global talent pool
- Getting more connected to technology
- Achieving higher levels of productivity
- Saving business a lot of money
- Increased employee satisfaction rate
- Reduced workplace stress
- Reduced employee turnover
and much more.
These benefits are the very reason why more organizations are embracing the “remote work culture”. Now, whether your team is sitting in the next room or thousands of miles away, one thing that doesn’t change is that you all need to communicate. The only thing that might change is your approach. Keeping that in mind, we’ve created a list of tips that can help project managers build and maintain a more collaborative remote workforce.
If you’re working with a remote team and you’re looking for ways to help them become more collaborative, here are the 7 things you need to consider:
1. Create new norms that establish clarity in communication
One of the biggest reasons why remote teams fail is that they forget to compensate for the fact that they are sitting miles apart from each other. Since remote team members don’t bump into each other that often, it is important that they compensate for it and find better ways to communicate. But before that, they need to set some ground rules. They need to set new norms that encourage frequent and more clear interactions between remote team members. Need ideas? Here are a few things you may want to include: the type of communication channels your team uses, when remote team meetings are held, when remote team members should come to an office, etc.
2. Use tools for chat, video communication, and screen sharing
In a remote work environment, team members are often less inclined to speak out in a group. This is where using a dedicated team messaging app, a video conferencing tool, or a screen sharing software proves most useful. These tools and apps create spaces where people can share ideas and have discussions in real-time. They save teams a lot of time and keeps them connected via audio/video anywhere, anytime. Plus, there are some team collaboration tools that allow teams to share, review, and proof each other work in real-time more collaboratively.
3. Meet face to face once in a while to sustain trust
Many recent studies and surveys have shown that when remote team members who meet each other face-to-face more often have higher levels of trust and productivity. So apart from online team collaboration software and virtual collaboration ideas, if it’s possible, make your remote team members meet each other face-to-face.
4. Leverage the power of social media
Team collaboration is all about making team members connect. And that’s the whole idea behind social media. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc provide people with a platform where they can connect in terms of their likes and dislikes. These platforms work quite well for remote teams. Leverage social media and it will give your remote team members to share their personal profile with each other. They will get to learn more personal stuff about each other like what drives them to do their best at work, what they love the most about their jobs, what other things interest them outside of their work life, and so on.
5. Create virtual spaces and rituals for celebrations and socializing
In co-located teams, it’s easier to create shared experiences and a collaborative environment, such as success parties and team lunches. Now, a remote team needs to develop something similar if they need to work together productively. The easiest and the most effective way to do this is by creating virtual spaces and rituals for team celebrations and socializing.
6. Standardize your work storage practices
What’s the one thing that your team members need to do in their jobs? Yes, that’s right – its information. Managing and sharing files is an aspect of the project management process, no matter whether it is involved a remote team or an in house team. The bottom line is simple – team members should have access to whatever information they need so that they can do their job with the utmost efficiency. Sadly, most businesses still rely on traditional file management techniques – and it’s not working. That’s why it is necessary that you standardize your work storage practices. Consider using cloud-based file management and file sharing software, it will serve you (and your remote team) well.
7. Invest in remote team building activities
One of the biggest problems with remote teams is that team members often begin to feel lonely and isolated. Now, not everyone copes well with such situation and most of them often end up losing their productivity. No doubt, there are many who enjoy the freedom that comes with working remotely. But still, you’ve got to make your remote team members feel like an actual part of the team from time to time. Wondering what’s the best way to do that? The answer is simple and fun – try team building activities and games. There are literally dozens of collaborative and fun workplace games and activities that you can try for your virtual teams. Just do a little research and you’ll find out.
To perform at the highest productivity levels, teams must find new and better ways to collaborate. Now, it’s hard enough to make people communicate effectively when they’re sitting in the same room. And when you throw them into different time zones, improving collaboration becomes quite a challenge.
But with the above ten tips, you have no reason to despair. Put them into practice and you will certainly find your remote team members work well together, collaboratively. Just remember that distance only makes things difficult, not impossible.
Vartika Kashyap is the Marketing Manager at ProofHub and has been one of the LinkedIn Top Voices in 2018. Her articles are inspired by office situations and work-related events. She likes to write about productivity, team building, work culture, leadership, entrepreneurship among others and contributing to a better workplace is what makes her click.