In this day and age, the term “remote work” no longer sounds as unfamiliar as it was just a few years ago. In only 12 years, the number of people who are working remotely increased by a whopping 159%. The reason for such a steep increase is that 90% of the employees, when asked, say that being given a chance to work remotely definitely increased their morale. In the United States alone, there are currently close to 5 million people who are working remotely.
The advent of technology has undoubtedly allowed people who are working in industries where remote work is possible to have a dramatic change in the way they do work. In the traditional office setting, there are a lot of tried and tested ways to collaborate with your team productively. But with so much difference in the way remote work is being done, remote teams need to rethink their strategies to achieve productive collaboration.
Here are eight tips and tricks to help you productively collaborate with your remote teams.
1. Arrange A Daily Virtual Stand-up Meeting
Just like your morning routine, a daily virtual stand-up meeting is like a queue that sets the mood up and reminds you that it’s now time for work. We suggest that you should do this via a one-to-one video call with each one of your team members, or do it in a group video conference. Because only doing it through instant messaging would lose the interaction your remote team members need for you guys to collaborate productively. The lack of communication can make the activity seem very repetitive, and they might lose interest in it and don’t prepare for it enough, thus resulting in underperformance.
The internet is awash of free premium, corporate-grade team video conferencing tools for you to choose from. Gone are the days when you have to pay for ridiculously expensive, corporate-licensed video conferencing software. A few examples where you don’t have to spend a single penny to use the service are Hangouts by Google, Zoom, and arguably the best video calling software in the world, Skype. Which brings me on to my second point:
2. Exploit The Power Of Technology
One of our most favorite parts when talking about working remotely is selecting pieces of technology the team would use for maximum productivity. Think of it as a military platoon, preparing their weapons in the boot camp before they engage in battle. The most critical area you should focus on is how connected your remote teams are. Your team’s choice of tools for communication could make or break you, since not all communication tools are the same, other members might not be comfortable with some, thus not use it to its full potential.
The use of communication tools entirely not designed for collaboration should be an absolute no-no. I am talking about communication tools like SMS messaging and the plain old email. Imagine how hard it is to track the remote team’s productivity just using SMS messaging and email. The good news is there are now full-blown collaboration suites explicitly built for remote teams that would allow you to track your team’s productivity and connectivity accurately; some examples are Microsoft Teams and Slack. Some of these tools are even currently free.
3. Let Your Team Have Freedom And Flexibility
Your remote team members do work wherever they like; as a result, they face as part of their daily challenges, how to deal with distractions. As the leader of your remote team, it might be a good idea to give your remote team members a certain amount of wiggling room. This is not so that they have an excuse to slack off, but it is a reason for rediscovering the true essence of productivity as a remote team. The freedom and flexibility you provide them would result in a favor for you and the team at the end of the day. Because they would find their most comfortable working schedules, thus, resulting in more productivity.
4. Don’t Micromanage Things
No matter how hard you try, it would not be feasible to assess every single piece of work done by each of the members of your remote teams. Realistically speaking, you shouldn’t even try to manage every little attribute of the team’s output, especially that you are handling a remote group of workers that are situated at different places. Rather than monitoring each one of your worker’s screens and counting the number of hours they worked. It is best to assess the remote team’s productivity based on their output.
5. Make Sure Your Remote Team Is Properly Equipped
With this, we meant more sort of in the hardware front. Earlier we discussed the importance of having the proper set of software tools for all the different aspects of the team’s connectivity and collaboration, this time; it’s time to talk about the hardware side of things.
Of course, all the software tools the team has prepared wouldn’t work without hardware. It is your responsibility as the remote team’s manager to make sure that each one of your team members has the means to do their work properly. It would be wrong to assume that they do already have a high-speed internet connection, mobile devices, and of course, a laptop or desktop computer because even if only one member lacked one hardware, it could affect the productivity of the team entirely.
6. Streamline Your Communication Tools
In section 2, we have discussed the importance of choosing the correct communication tools for the team. It is essential to have a clear set of rules on which medium each member of the team should use to avoid confusion, which could derail the rapport of the entire team resulting in lower productivity.
There Are Three Main Types Of Communication Tools
1. Video Conferencing
Video conferencing is reserved for the times when one-on-one communication is necessary. This is the best type of communication tool to use to explain to other members of the team, concepts that cannot easily be understood. Sharing one’s screen also falls under this category.
2. Instant Messaging
The name is a giveaway in itself already. Team members should use this communication tool if they need a quick response from another member of the team. It should not, however, be used in discussing personal matters; in short, it must not be used as a social chatting platform.
Email can be treated as a formal letter. It can be used to convey intricate team-wide announcements, project specifications, and documents forwarded professional emails from clients or vendors. This should not be used if you are expecting an immediate reply.
7. Invest In Your Remote Teams
Just like in the office, training and seminars are being conducted either locally or outside. Your team members, although they can self-study most of the new skills they have to acquire, they still need to be trained among their fellow remote teammates. Because the more knowledge and better skills your team members have, the better they can perform their function in the team. That is why it is your responsibility as the team leader to invest in training, webinars, workshops, and events that would benefit the whole team.
It has been reported that a lack of growth and development opportunities can cause an employee to jump ship and look for better opportunities.
8. Acknowledge Your Team’s Hard Work
Although it might sound banal, it is very much essential to recognize your team members for their hard work, dedication, and contributions. Failing to do so may result in low team member morale. Another thing is that to make effective recognition to your team members, it is crucial to make it specific, timely, and visible.
Also, check out this The Leader’s Handbook in Managing Remote Employees