In the first part of the series, we looked at some of the issues that arise when working with remote teams, as well as suggestions for getting your small group on the same page. To be successful, your remote team must figure out how to create unity. It is only when everyone is working in tandem in the right ways we can achieve efficiency.
Here are a few suggestions:
* Be available.
It is essential to build trust. Naturally, this is more challenging for a remote team than walking to someone’s desk or office. Utilizing technologies to mimic ad-hoc conversations like Instant messaging, Skype videos, and Facetime could be helpful.
* Balance availability by allowing for respectful interruptions.
Being always available could result in disruption to productivity and in constant distractions. It’s simple to enable instant messaging, or random Skype calls to increase that. Thus, team members must find a way to balance the way they utilize technology to access the information they require and still be respectful of how they interact with each other – much like you do in a work environment. If possible, set aside times to talk with one another, keep your calendars current to let others know when you’re available and not, and utilize “time-outs” to allow people can turn off their emails, instant messaging as well other devices to focus on their work.
Set up a schedule for formal communication. This includes having a regular timetable for meetings and having other processes in place to exchange information and coordinate projects.
* Reserve the time
and funds to get together in person every quarter or more often in order to increase cohesion and trust.
Be more mindful of your tone
both in email and on the phone as you would in the person. Without the ability to discern how you speak, it’s possible for people to misinterpret your words.
Make use of technology to share information about your project.
Collaboration tools like Basecamp and 37 Signals allow users to transfer files to alleviate problems with versioning and manage their efforts in a central location without the need to download any software.
* For critical communications
make a call. There is nothing better than talking one-on-one.
* Take extra time to contact those in your group.
In meetings, make positive remarks like “I’m excited to be working together in this.” Be sure to reach out to team members with no particular reason other than to communicate. If you have the chance to attend a meeting, Make it a point to be together.
Make use of technology to reduce the gap in distance.
If you’ve got the money to do so, you should consider technologies for videoconferences or telepresence. If you have a smaller budget, then you should feel webinars. If you’re not able to afford it, then you should consider using Skype as well as Facetime.
Be aware of the cultural differences between you by having an open discussion about your preferred communication style and then defining the needs of each team member on a personal level.
• Understand your style of listening.
Listening to remote teams plays a crucial role since most teamwork is carried out through teleconference. There are different ways of hearing, and each has strengths and drawbacks. Knowing your personal style of listening will allow you to identify your weaknesses and the possibilities to boost team cohesion.
Watch out for Part 3, in which I’ll offer suggestions on the importance of having processes that are disciplined for remote teams.
Sal Silvester is the founder and president of 5.12 Solutions (five-twelve) and the author of the Ultimate Goal Setting Guide and the new book Generating Team Member Commitment: The Four Keys for Leaders in the Emerging Stage to get it and keep it.
Teamwork and leadership are Sal’s love, and his unique viewpoint is a result of his experiences over the past 18 years of being an Army Officer, a senior executive at Accenture, and the co-founder of 5.12 Solutions. He has managed and led teams in the deserts of Kuwait as well as The mountains in Turkey and at the workplaces of a variety of clients working on the improvement of processes, organizational transformation as well as training initiatives.