Can you imagine rolling out of bed, turning on your desktop and being at work? This is a reality for many workers, now more than ever before. Thirty-second commute aside, there are certainly challenges when it comes to working remotely. How can you reach an effective collaboration with colleagues that are thousands of miles away? How can managers allocate workload for a team that’s spread across the world?
There are many ways to enhance communication and thus develop effective collaboration among your remote team. Use these secrets to combat any challenges and ensure everyone stays productive, engaged and excited, no matter where they are.
Assume positive intent
It’s easy for a neutral message to come across as negative when collaborating via email or chat causing distress among the team. That’s why Trello’s productivity guru Lauren Moon advises us to assume positive intent in communication: “Tone and nuance do not always come across over chat, thus assuming your colleague is coming from a positive place helps to smooth over any potential misunderstandings as they are being ironed out.”
Remember the simple practice of giving co-workers the benefit of the doubt. You might also consider hopping on a video or phone call to handle any potential issues.
Make instructions clear
Brief messages are often believed to be clear messages, but be wary of falling into this mindset with your remote team. You’re likely trying to be more efficient, but employees might not know your jargon, cues, or shorthand. Not only does the message get lost in translation, but employees may waste time trying to decipher it. Be as clear and explicit as possible when communicating, especially when it involves deadlines or project details.
One way to streamline this process is to create something that formalizes the process of kick-starting a new project or onboarding someone with a new client. This prompts managers to share all the right information and provides a clear and consistent structure for employees so they always know what information to expect.
Establish a communication routine
Your team needs to establish normal response times and agree upon methods of communication and confirmation. According to HBR, Merck, a remote organization, created acronyms for response times, such as NNTR (no need to respond) and 4HR (four hour response), so employees know what is expected of them.
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Set this foundational element early on so everyone understands when they’re expected to communicate. It’s a baseline for effective collaboration.
Check in regularly
Remote teams should be checking in with one another regularly. These brief communication opportunities help teams identify priorities and track progress on projects. They also provide leaders with an idea of how much time is being spent on projects and where employees could (or should) be upskilled. If someone is regularly struggling to finish similar projects, a manager may recognize the need to provide further training, for example.
Not to mention, this constant contact is good for morale. In a recent article for Forbes, Barbara O’Malley of Exec Advance LLC said: “Constant interaction and engagement will help remote workers feel included in an important aspect of the organization.”
Our team is using the Topics in Hubgets for group chats that are based on topics, projects or even common interest subjects. These allow us to focus on projects and tasks that do not need everyone’s attention, while keeping updated.
Encourage employees to speak up
People are more likely to contribute if they feel that their team members value their input. This is why remote teams need to prioritize listening to one another and celebrating the little things. A quick message telling someone they’ve done a good job on a project is quick and easy to send, and can encourage them to speak up in your next collaborative meeting.
OnPoint Consulting suggests making recognition specific and behavioral, so the employee knows exactly why they are being praised. The goal is to build a culture of praise, recognizing hard work and giving every employee the encouragement they need to share their voice and contribute.
Make collaboration work for your remote team
Get collaborative with your team, no matter where you’re located. Use these tips to share your voice, connect with co-workers and encourage everyone to bring their great ideas to the table, even if the table is virtual.
And don’t forget that effective collaboration means both improved productivity, and also more engaged team members, regardless of their location.