Creating a great work environment is a major concern for every business organisation. Especially, if you want to have high work satisfaction, build community and keep your people around.
In a traditional office environment, it is easy to share information and have meetings that generally breed teamwork. Whereas, in a remote environment, proper collaborating strategies need to be followed if you want to enjoy the benefits that come along with flexible working.
Creating Remote Work Schedules
When working in a remote team, scheduling and organising even a minor task is necessary. Effective scheduling translates to successful collaboration. If done right, all the employees will be on the same page when it comes to work and deadlines.
Scheduling meeting in a remote environment can be (or what people usually assume) a challenging task. You need to follow a set process that can make it smooth and effective. While scheduling a meeting in a remote team these things should be taken care of-
- Purpose of the meetings - The objective of the scheduled meeting should be clear to every member of the team for quick discussions and decisions. This small habit saves a lot of time.
- Taking every member's input - Any employee working remotely can feel a disconnect from the team due to time, culture, language or any other barrier. Taking every employee’s input and suggestions during virtual meetings is necessary. This makes everybody feel more included and connected to the team and enhances collaboration.
- People working in different time zones - Do take care that meetings are scheduled at a time that is convenient for every team member; whether it’s a team member in China or in Spain. Tools like every timezone can be used by individuals to keep up with time zones.
- Use of tools - Use of cloud-based collaborative tools while working remotely is not a choice but a need. Video conferencing tools like Zoom, Skype etc. are very effective for the team as well as one-on-one meetings. Use Calendar for scheduling meetings and communicating with the team members.
Cloud-based tools are not only used as a collaboration tool for work but as a tool to bridge the social disconnect that the employees might feel while working in a remote environment. These tools can be creatively used for group building activities that increase employee interaction.
For instance, something like charades can be played by remote teams; you just need a good camera (for video conferencing). If you’re motivated enough there are endless games you can adapt.
"We use a Trello board to conduct team meetings by allowing everyone to add cards to the agenda. It gives the team a sense of empowerment and leads to more engagement amongst the team." - Stella Garber, Product Marketing Manager @ Trello
Employing tools to manage the remote team
This might sound a bit obvious but quite a few companies who manage remote work get this wrong. With so many tools available it can be a bit daunting to find the right tool to manage your team. Using the right project management tools like Trello can help in effective collaboration between you and your team. These tools can help in keeping the company’s growth and goals on track. Other touch points include-
Team visibility - There should be complete transparency between you and the rest of your team. A remote manager should not micromanage the employees. Complete transparency helps the manager in keeping a track of the employee’s workflow.
Cloud-based collaborative tools - Make your team use tools for anything and everything. Instil the importance of these tools in all the team members so that they are all aligned. Monthly audits can be useful to maintain work hygiene.Tip- You can link Slack to the Trello to foster seamless collaboration between the two apps.
Member management - There is no limit to the number of members you can have in your team. While managing your members using Trello, one should add everyone that is going to be collaborating. It makes it simpler to communicate goals, whether personal or collective. It also keeps everyone in the loop and shares a clear-cut picture of the objectives and goals.
Creating virtual water-cooler moments - Setting up virtual ‘water-cooler’ moments for the remote employees is important as it helps the team to get to know each other personally. By creating an online space (a chat room, blog, Facebook group, etc.) for sharing non-work-related and ‘just-for-fun’ content can be helpful.
Performance Evaluation in Remote Teams
While working remotely you cannot stop by your employee’s desk for a quick update (obviously). This can be a concern in a remote team because you cannot be sure whether your employee is working or not. But this can be addressed by following two simple evaluation techniques.
Keeping track - Making progress-tracking or to-do list on Trello of your team’s workflow. These lists keep track of every employee’s work status. Not only it serves as an accountability tool, but it can also function as an asynchronous way for team members to stay updated on tasks and projects.
Feedback mechanism - A mechanism should be set up to provide useful and significant feedback to each team member. Do not confuse feedback with micromanaging - your employees can’t enjoy the benefits of focused remote working if they’re constantly being barraged with questions from their team leaders.
Ensuring collaboration in a remote team is not easy. One has to maintain both personal and professional relationships amongst the entire team. Scheduling, managing and evaluating properly can be an effective collaborative strategy for your remote team.
Stella Garber, Product Marketing Manager at Trello, has been managing and working with a remote team for a long time now and shares her insights about the challenges and solutions of ensuring collaboration in a remote team.