How to Foster A Team Environment and Good Communication While Working Remotely
As our recent blog, How Working Remotely Is Helping Women Balance Work and Family Life discussed, there are MANY advantages to working remotely. With those advantages come some challenges. One of the challenges remote teams face is maintaining a team environment and great communication. When working remotely, communicating with your team isn’t as simple as turning your chair around to ask your team member a question or walking across the office to discuss a conflict with a manager. Fortunately, with some good discipline and the amazing technology out there today, fostering a team environment and good communication is just as easy as working together in an office. We are sharing some helpful tips that can help you and your remote team.
Use the Tools and Technology Available
Isn’t it crazy how mobile devices have programs like face-time, skype, snap chat, and other tools to help you stay in touch while friends or family are away? Well, this is exactly how remote teams work. There are programs out there like Skype, Google-Meet, and Zoom that allow you to meet day-to-day. It might not be in person, but it's still face-to-face. As some of you may know, our team is 100% remote. Thanks to Zoom, we are able to remain as close and connected as in-office teams are. Like other offices, we have weekly meetings- it's just that instead of meeting in a conference room we meet in the comfort of our home office (through a screen.) Should our team members ever need to show each other something on the computer, zoom allows us to share our screen to we can see what our peers are seeing. Thanks to video chat, we are able to meet regularly or as needed.
Sometimes video chat isn’t always ideal. We all need our quiet and uninterrupted time to focus on work. That is why we are also so grateful for the helpful tool, slack. Slack is a texting type of tool we use to stay in touch with our teammates without interrupting them. Of course, if a teammate or client ever needs something right away, our phones and email are always available. Some people might assume that it's difficult to communicate with your team when they are not right next to you, but in most cases, it's better. Our remote settings force us to get our point across quickly and clearly, which gives us more time to dedicate to getting work done.
At Joseph Studios, we have team members that work in all different time zones. Without proper communication, its easy for tasks and meetings to get off track. This is why it's so important to rely on time tracking tool and a program that keeps tasks organized in one place. We have a great tool for keeping tasks in one place to ensure everything is done in an efficient, timely manner. This tool also allows you to track the status of each project, so you never have to wonder where a team member is with a project. You can also track the time spent on each project. This is great for managers to know how much time employees are taking on each project. The project management tool is great for remote companies but also any company that wants to keep track of its work.
Like any other work environment, it is important to maintain a good work culture. More so with remote environments, because you are not surrounded by your team every day. When it comes to remote work, its all about trust. Companies are often hesitant to allow their team to work remotely because they are unsure if they will really get work done. This is where check-ins come in. Making a to-do list (or having a task-managing program) is essential for success, and of course, managers should always check in with their team. Not only to get a piece of mind that work is being done but being able to chat with team members to understand where they are in their work and how you can help improve their job.
Recognition of Hard Work
When working from a home office, it's easy to feel disconnected. To prevent this disconnect, it’s important to acknowledge a team member when they are doing great work. Every person likes their work to be recognized, especially when your team is not there to say “Hey, great job.!” Instead, during weekly meetings, don’t hesitate to discuss team achievements. It will help the team understand what’s going on. In addition, if something is not being completed or done up to expectation, speak up. Bottling things up is never good and usually ends badly for everyone. Be transparent with your team to maintain a healthy work environment.
Keep Your Tone in Mind
Have you ever received a text or email and thought wow, that was really harsh when really, the person didn’t mean the message in any particular way? With written communication, it is easy to misinterpret a message. Without facial expressions, verbal cues, or body language, its easy to consider a message rude, angry, or aggressive when they weren’t meant to be. To keep your communication as clear as possible, read over every message you send and consider how it sounds. Depending on who the message is being sent to and the level of professionalism required, you can send emoji’s with a message to humanize and lighten up the tone. If you are sending an email to a potential client, this might be a little much, so be sure always to remain professional.
All in all, working remotely is very rewarding, especially if you can foster a good work environment and communication. To learn more about remote work environments and work culture, stay up to date on our latest blogs!