How to work effectively in a remote team

27 March

Where and how we work has changed dramatically over the past few weeks. The rise of Covid-19 has prompted many companies to ask some or all of their teams to prioritise their wellbeing and the wellbeing of their teammates by working remotely. While technology advancements have meant that most of us have experienced working from home or away from the office some of the time, many teams and their managers are now facing the challenge of being separated for the foreseeable future.

In times of rapidly changing conditions, it can be hard to be prepared to work remotely but here are some tips to improve the motivation, engagement and productivity of your team:


Effective communication

The biggest challenge for distributed teams is communication. With face-to-face conversations, you communicate with your tone of voice and body language as well as with what you are actually saying. This is often lost when using emails or instant messaging and the pace of conversation changes because of the delay between messages. All of these factors combined can lead to ongoing conversations where the meaning gets lost.

To avoid any confusion or misunderstanding, it is important to be clear in your communication. And that doesn't mean be concise. Make sure that the people you're communicating with have enough context and don't assume people will know what you mean.


Using the right tools

The medium that you choose to communicate and collaborate with can make all the difference. But with so many different tools out there, it can be hard to choose the ones that will work best for your team. Do you use Slack, Zoom, Google Docs, Trello or Whatsapp groups? And when do you use one over the other?

It is important to think about how you're using these tools and why. Each person in your team may have a preferred form of communication and the level of formality so it helps to bring in some structure around when you have face-to-face video calls and when a quick message will do the job.


Visualising work

To successfully adjust as a team to digitally-based communication and collaboration, you need to think about how you're aligning on important tasks or projects and keep up with your daily rituals. If you're used to having a daily stand-up meeting with your team or present your work on a story wall, it might still be useful to do this in some form virtually.

This may require a bit of planning and prep but meeting with your team regularly to prioritise work, discuss blockers and give feedback will help you to maintain close collaboration while you're working remotely.


Enhancing culture and community

Be intentional about creating spaces to socialise virtually. It is important to keep celebrating wins, welcoming new people or wishing a teammate a happy birthday when your team is distributed. This helps to strengthen relationships and boost morale, helping everyone to feel more engaged and a bit less isolated.

As more of our daily interactions move online, we need to think about how we can collaborate as a team more effectively. The answer won't always be in the technology we use. Instead, we need to build up our communication skills and find new and better ways to work together remotely.