In an office setting, effective leaders can develop a culture for the workplace to help teams work better together while establishing expectations and social norms that everyone can navigate. In a remote environment, this is not as easily practiced.
More and more, remote work is becoming commonplace. While there are definitely advantages, such as giving additional tools to the introverts on your team, there is a substantial loss in interpersonal relationships and in-person communication. Like everything else in life, there is a positive way to look at any situation. Along with the new challenges that come with remote working are ways to build a team culture to counteract those challenges. The trick to taking this one step further and collaborating most effectively as a remote team is to find your greatest strengths in this new system and use them effectively.
Create Expectations For Different Communication Channels
If you were in an office setting, there would be procedures in place for the types of things discussed in meetings, what gets said in email or text, and what needs to be discussed in a private meeting one-on-one. Whether your team uses Slack, Google Docs, WhatsApp, or Email, there are rules in place and a defined culture with expectations for ways certain things get discussed. Anyone who has experienced a text miscommunication knows that written words sometimes don’t convey meaning appropriately. Texts are read in a subjective manner in the reader’s own inner voice. By having set styles of communication, you can help curb these situations.
Discuss Work Times For Messages
Some people will feel pressured to reply to messages right away, even when they get strange reminder emails at ten o’clock at night. This same person who feels compelled to reply outside of office hours may resent getting emailed this late. Have a team meeting about the appropriate windows of time for work-related content. It may be that individuals have different standards for this so communication is key.
Clear Communication Isn’t The Same As Brief Communication
Over-explaining things can be irritating to some employees, but the same can be said for brief messages that don’t explain everything they need to know. Video calls can be a great way to get around this when discussing important topics, and that is the primary medium during a remote office environment. When you do send out written communiqués, take the time to write things out in detail so everyone is clear on important matters. Confusion costs time and causes more frustration than a long email.
It is common knowledge that remote teamwork requires more trust in your team members. Sending three reminder messages out on multiple channels will irritate people. Set clear deadlines, have a clear way of communicating these deadlines for everyone–like a team calendar–and then trust your team to follow through. Accountability is another way to keep everyone honest, so make sure you have weekly or monthly check-ins to make sure nobody is struggling.
Use Collaborative Apps
There are multiple programs ideal for remote teams that encourage collaboration. With these, people can share documents and work together more efficiently. Make sure everyone knows how to use them by holding training sessions and letting people follow up with any feedback or questions.