Life is busy and complex and because of this, the stars are finally starting to align as more and more companies are open to remote working options. From working from home to co-working spaces, because technology has become so much more advanced, the barriers that used to be an excuse or reason for not allowing remote working are no more.
There are so many benefits when it comes to remote working such as:
- No office = no rent
- No commute = more work time
- No office distractions = greater focus
However, remote work can also come with challenges such as:
- Difficulty with phone and video conferencing
- Less business-critical conversation or feedback
- Little to no team building
In order to make remote working work for a team, each person must put a little extra effort in to communicate proactively and use tools in a way that creates the aura of a team environment.
Let’s look at a few easy ways to use technology to help bridge the distance gap when your team is working remotely.
Make it personable
Being remote, especially working from home, can create a few interesting challenges for remote meetings. The first is that we tend to work more comfortably in our personal space (pajamas, gym clothes, etc.) and the second is that we tend to lose some of our communication prowess when in our quiet home office away from humanity. This can tend to lead to the lack of desire to show your face during a conference call. But the point of a conference call is to connect as if we were present in the room. Having face-to-face interaction can be critical to feeling connected with others in a way that enables us to achieve a better conversation through body language.
Pro Tip: Make it a habit to always turn your camera on, unless it is causing connectivity challenges. Try using a video conferencing tool like Zoom and have some fun with a virtual background or the “touch up my appearance” setting.
Make things clear
There is nothing more frustrating than getting on a video or phone call and not being able to hear. Especially if you are the only person not in the room! We all have different voices and some work better than others when it comes to how they are perceived through microphones. But a team is only as productive as its meetings so it is critical everyone can hear loud and clear.
Pro Tip: Invest in a speaker system that is easy to set up and has good reviews so that you and others relying on you can hear. Take a look at a Jabra puck that is affordable and makes a world of a difference in whether you are heard on your remote calls.
Make things easy to share
Meetings such as design reviews or requirement sessions can be fairly successful where there is something to be seen and comments can easily be shared verbally in a live session. However, when a meeting is not possible or being remote makes it more difficult, there can be delays, miscommunication, and an imbalanced amount of feedback that slows down a project.
Pro Tip: Use tools that enable sharing and attributable comments so that when you have work for review, you can quickly receive actionable feedback. Try tools like Figma for design prototypes, Google docs for sharing requirements, or Airtable for data tracking.
Make the most of everyone’s time
Getting time with a group of team members can be more challenging when remote so it is critical the time together is well planned. This is where a good, collaborative agenda comes in handy. If everyone on the team has the opportunity to influence what is on the agenda, the meeting will be planned in a way that addresses everyone.
Pro Tip: Use a meeting tool that helps facilitate the meeting end to end so the team can all help plan and participate together every step of the way. A meeting-focused tool like Docket is a great way to create and share agendas, take notes, assign tasks, and share meeting-related tools and resources that everyone invited can see and use to make the meeting flow without interruption.
Make it fun
While working remotely is viewed by many as a perk, there are other benefits that one may feel are lacking such as the camaraderie or team building that occurs in an office. Not being in the same space can lead to miscommunication or lack of communication as well as frustration for a myriad of logical and personal reasons.
Pro Tip: Use a chat tool like Slack that not only offers the ability to communicate quickly with individuals or select audiences but also provides unique ways to bring personality and fun into a team channel so everyone feels involved, empowered, and inspired as a team.
Remote working can lead a team to greater efficiency and alignment with the right tools so that the divide from distance grows shorter as a team grows closer.