The covid-19 pandemic has forced us to assemble remote teams almost overnight. What is more, many companies are considering permanently shifting to remote working to reduce office spaces, including Mondelez, Nationwide and Barclays.
Following the transformation, it’s time to examine what makes up an effective remote team.
We have interviewed 10 remote working experts for their opinions on working in or building virtual teams.
As a bonus, each expert is bringing a product/community/service that you should not miss out on when building your remote team.
“My advice to people who are WFH now is they should not assume this is what remote work typically looks like. This pandemic is a very unusual context, which in no way represents the ‘normal’ WFH reality. It’s 10000000x more intense, even for someone like me who has been working remotely for six years. Before the shelter-in-place orders, I would typically work from a coffee shop, on the train to a co-work location, at a conference with my MURAL colleagues or at a customer’s office where I facilitated a workshop. None of this is “normal”. Employers and employees should take that into consideration when they decide whether to provide flexible work options after the lockdown is over.”
“There is an endless supply of tips and tools for remote workers. However, every business and every team member has unique needs and expectations. When everyone is using different tools or the same tools but with different expectations, you are creating a recipe for confusion, conflict, and underperformance.
The most successful remote teams are those who have taken the time to align across mindset, infrastructure, and education, and furthermore communicate clearly and consistently regarding all of the above.”
“Team building in remote team is just as crucial as in the office, if not more. The team needs to build trust and rapport with each other through social and personal interactions.
One of the biggest challenges for every remote worker is staying connected with his/her team. Leaders need to proactively bring the team together for some social time if they want to improve the team’s collaboration and productivity.”
“Work during Covid-19 does not reflect a typical remote work situation. Many of your colleagues work from home with their children or need to take care of family or elders. This means they need to adjust a lot and have a lot of distractions. This is why it is important to manage expectations and output from your colleagues during these times. Remote work works great with established processes, great documentation and over communication. “
“Unlike popular perception, Remote working is not about a person lying on a hammock with a pina colada in their hand. It is, in fact, the very opposite, requiring a very high level of discipline – to work without distractions, to segregate work & personal life, to take care of one’s mental & physical health, and much more. So, here are some pointers to be successful in a remote environment:
- – Establish a clear working area
- – Helps to have a steady timetable
- – Over-communicate with your colleagues and preferably have frequent video calls
- – Document everything: verbal exchanges don’t live long
- – Definitely engage in some form of human interaction (till we fight COVID-19, it should be virtual though 🙂 ) “
“Working from home could be a source of stress. The ambiguity between work and personal life puts remote workers into stress. Remote work does not equal working from home (unless we are in a global pandemic). Checking out coffee shops, coworking spaces and libraries can be a good way to switch routines up.”
“WFH burnout is real. When you start working remotely, it’s normal to feel pressured to prove that you’re working. And this pressure can eventually lead to burnout. Give yourself permission to gently unravel from systems that no longer apply to you and remember that productivity isn’t tied with being physically present in an office or in front of your boss. Productivity + working remotely often looks like running a string of experiments. We all work differently and have our own preferences.
Without the structure offered by office environments and social time with coworkers, newfound freedom can feel a bit daunting. Rather than boxing yourself into the “ideal remote worker”, observe your natural rhythm and start testing! Productivity is supposed to work for you, not the other way around.
Here are some prompts to help get you started:
- How do I like to start my day?
- What hours do I prefer to work?
- Which tasks require shallow focus vs deep focus?
- What times of the day do I feel the most energized?
- Which tools are actually helpful vs distracting?
- How do I prefer to manage my own time?
- What boundaries do I need to create and maintain?
- How am I managing my health and wellness?
- What would make me feel like I’m winding down from work?
When you pay attention to your own cadence and start experimenting, not only are you empowering yourself, but you’re also reclaiming your day :)”
“Remote teams often fail to reach actionable decisions during virtual meetings due to communication difficulties. A problem that has troubled one team member for weeks may only be presented to other team members for the first time at a meeting. And because of time-zones, one teammate might be right at the end of their day, another might still be waking up. Result? The conversation stalls because the team is forced to solve a problem on the spot. Exchanging 5-min video briefings among team members in advance gives context to the meeting ahead. With context in mind, your team is set for a quality time filled with constructive discussions.”
“With remote work, you miss a lot of micro-interactions and hallway conversations that make in-office relationships effortless. That’s not to say building remote relationships is impossible, far from it, but it requires intentionality. Being intentionally empathetic is key, whether that’s frequent manager check-ins, a team-wide “do your best” mentality, or being radically transparent about expectations.”
“According to The 2020 State of Remote Work, 20% of remote workers consider loneliness as their biggest struggle, while 18% of remote workers have trouble to unplug. During the covid-19 lockdown, personal connection is more crucial than ever for the well-being of remote workers. Building a personal connection with your team brings trust and transparency that will reflect directly in communication and productivity.”