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Getting Remote Teamwork to Work

Posted by Ryan Pinke on

Many project teams, departments, groups find themselves suddenly thrown into the world of "remote" working.  A few months ago, your tight-knit group was meeting every day in the project room, charts and timelines taped to the walls, notes on the whiteboard, the most needed printouts available on the table. No so today.  The charts are in some shared project folder, notes are on pieces of paper on your desk, and the most needed documents are hiding from plain view. The world has turned upside down, and it's going to take a while for it to flip over.

In this new world, the project room has turned into a virtual room with everyone looking like a "talking head". As disruptive as this new work environment is, there is a way to ensure it remains productive. Timelines are still timelines; goals are still goals; and no matter what, your work has to be completed.

With all that in mind, here are 4 keys to making the "new" normal as productive as the "old" normal.

1. Empathize with teammates to build trust

You've heard the catch phrase "we are all in this together".  That couldn't be truer when you're talking about your teammates.  As stated earlier, the pressure to get our word done doesn't change, just because we are now doing from home.  What does change, is how we support each other.  Personally, I enjoy working from home.  It's quiet, and I have time to think, very limited interruptions.  But there are people in our company that feel isolated, want the social interaction of a physical workplace, and have a harder time concentrating.  What that means is our teammates need us to understand them "better" today.  Working remotely, whether it's seen as a blessing or a curse, is something we all need to acclimate to.  

KEY: Be a better teammate, by being a better person. Take time to "check in" and find out how everyone is doing.

2. Create rituals & document everything

When moving from a physical location (project room or workplace), we naturally lose the ability to just drop by and have a quick chat.  It's different when that conversation is no longer face-to-face, but through some application like Slack or plain old email.  Start setting up video calls to just chat.  It cold be an open video meeting, where people can come and go without feeling like they need to attend.  The coffee machine in the morning is the new "water cooler" - so set up some virtual coffee times where people can relax, and talk about anything.  We have seen (and we've done it ourselves) the virtual Happy Hour.  Same idea, it's not mandatory, just a casual meeting time and place to reconnect.  

KEY: Create a new "flow" and social gather experience for your newly remote team.

3. Protect your time from empty meetings

Back in anciet times (like 2019) and your project room was filled with activity. YOu didn't have time to create meetings that didn't accomplish anything.  Sure you had review meetings, you had update meetings, you had the occasional "where are we now" moments - but the majority of those meetings had a purpose.  Just because we are no longer in and out of the project room, doesn't mean that we now need meetings with no purpose.  In fact, the purpose of your meetings need to be crystal clear now more than ever. It's important the right people attend, prepared and ready to present. 

KEY: Remote does not mean unprepared. Meetings, whether in person or virtual, are based upon time you will never get back. 

4. Mimic in-person collaboration

Sharing has never been more important than it is today.  Not everyone is on the same page, our work schedules and sleep patterns are messed up, and "sharing" is constant struggle when you're working alone.  BUT, this is exactly the time to "over share" with your teammates.  Have calls, video or otherwise.  Get feedback for your work.  Email questions (or use Slack).  

KEY:  Done waste your teammates time, but finding the balance is with remote teammates and projects is well worth investigating.

Keep those four keys in mind, and it will help create a smoother transition and better teamwork with your remote teams.  And if you find yourself needing an upgrade or just want your home office to operate better, check our our video conferencing cameras and audio solutions for Home Offices.  

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