Twenty or thirty years ago, we could never have imagined how different the workplace would be today. With improvements in technology and a shift in workplace ideals, working remotely is becoming more and more common. Employees are no longer confined to a cubicle – or even an office for that matter. It’s an exciting frontier for both employees and companies alike.
But as with anything new, there are a handful of challenges to overcome. With remote work, these challenges are centered around communication, productivity, and company culture.
And if teamwork across organizational boundaries wasn’t already difficult than working remotely certainly makes things more complicated.
Luckily, by adding some additional processes to your team’s workflow, it can all be easily managed. This post includes everything you need to know to break through those team boundaries and work efficiently – even while enjoying a cool drink on the beach!
Keep the Communication Line Open.
In an office environment, communication between team members is generally less challenging. It’s as easy as walking over to your teammate’s desk. With a remote team, it’s important to create that same feeling with a consistent and open line of communication.
When you’re working remotely, there are a lot more opportunities for misunderstanding. So clarity in projects and open communication between team members is essential.
There are a few ways to achieve this “at office” feeling without ever actually stepping foot in an office and a lot of it has to do with the tools that you use.
Ultimately, you need to choose the tools that are best suited for your team and luckily, there is a handful to choose from. Choose one tool for daily communication.
Here are our favorites:
A lot of the tools available like Slack and HipChat, actually encourage daily communication — especially between teams and across organizational boundaries.
- Every employee views the same dashboard and is able to read other discussions taking place within another team (assuming it’s in a shared channel). Sales can check in on the marketing channel and vice-versa, making it easy to communicate and stay informed.
- Both Slack and HipChat allow users to create “channels”, which are groups organized by topics. While some channels are obvious, like “marketing updates” and “sales”, others are fun and inviting. Channels like “funny videos” and “shared reading” create a light atmosphere, with various places to communicate between teams.
Stay Transparent & Set Company-Wide Goals
It can be difficult for remote employees to have a clear sense of the company’s ongoings. Which is why companies who have fully remote teams should be extremely transparent about the inter-workings of the company. From sales goals to client failures, not much should be left to the imagination.
By being transparent, remote employees not only understand their role in the company better, but also the role of their co-workers.
The key to transparency is regular updates. Hold bi-weekly team meetings where everyone has a chance to get a feel for where the company is at. This includes roadblocks, previous challenges, strengths, and weaknesses.
Here’s the other benefit of being transparent, it allows you to set measurable, company-wide goals. When everyone is in-tune with the business’s objectives, it makes their role feel that much more important. Plus, it fosters unity and collaboration, because everyone is working towards a common goal.
Make the Most Out Of Meetings
When it comes to remote meetings, it’s best to use video tools as often as possible. A video introduces a more human element, as opposed to listening to voices on a conference call. This allows team members to feel like they are getting to know each other. Plus, it helps to deter multitasking during meetings.
Here are our favorite meeting tools:
You need to determine the frequency that is best for your team, however, having at least one group meeting per week can be really beneficial to encourage team communication and collaboration. If at some point, you feel weekly meetings are redundant then move to bi-weekly meetings. It’s important to set processes, but also to remain flexible. Do what works.
Bonus: Be the example and hire wisely
When you’re trying to build a collaborative team of remote workers, it’s imperative that management sets the tone. Encourage collaboration, design discussions, and open communication. Eventually, instead of encouraging collaboration you will have created a culture of collaboration. A culture where every team member feels comfortable and confident working across organizational boundaries and giving their input.
A remote company, although challenging at times, has some incredible benefits for both the business and the employees. By hiring the right people, focusing on communication and establishing the right structures, you’ll have an incredible and cohesive team in the making. And if you’re ever having any doubts, just refer to this list of successful, notable companies who seem to have remote work all figured out!
Ashley is a freelance writer, blogger and digital marketing professional living in Denver, Colorado. She specializes in crafting content that attracts and converts customers.