By Casey Zheng, Growth Marketing Manager at RemoteHQ. RemoteHQ is a collaboration platform for modern remote teams to optimize their virtual productivity.
We're grateful to RemoteHQ for sharing their expertise. Any opinions expressed within this blog post are those of the author and not necessarily held by Workplaceless itself.
With a new normal of working remotely for the foreseeable future, teams must learn how to better collaborate in order to maintain high performance. It isn’t surprising that many employees who recently tried remote work for the first time prefer it to being in an office. The flexibility remote work provides has been a game changer for most people. A July 2020 Gartner survey found that 82% of company leaders will allow employees to continue working remotely at least part of the time, and almost half said that their employees may continue full-time remote work.
Companies must now prioritize creating a consistent and sustainable remote experience for their employees. While there was often a stigma associated with working from home prior to the pandemic, now leaders must be open-minded. Those working from home should no longer be perceived and treated as outliers, even if the majority of their colleagues are in an office. Having face time in the office was often deemed a factor in choosing promotions and growth on a team. Looking forward, McKinsey advises leaders “to maintain productivity, collaboration, and learning and to preserve the corporate culture, the boundaries between being physically in the office and out of the office must collapse. In-office video conferencing can no longer involve a group of people staring at one another around a table while others watch from a screen on the side, thus unable to participate effectively.”
Here are some tips to enhance remote collaboration.
In remote work, overcommunication is just communication. A lot of nonverbal communication is lost through video conferencing or on audio calls. The lag and pixelation through video also changes the minute details of nonverbal communication. Additionally, you aren’t able to run into a colleague to quickly update them on something or overhear a conversation where you can jump in and offer your opinion. Those quick but essential touch points employees had with their teams throughout the day in an office are gone. Therefore, teams must make an effort to communicate frequently. After you leave a virtual meeting and your video or audio is off, your teammates can’t see what you’re working on, what you’re thinking, and how you’re thinking. Remote workers must take it upon themselves to communicate what is necessary and sometimes even what they think might not be necessary but may be important to those around you. Keep in mind your teammates are not mind readers.
It’s also important to make sure everyone is on the same page regarding priorities and deadlines. Project managers should check in frequently with everyone on the team to ensure everyone is engaged and also feels empowered in their work.
When you first start working remotely, there is the allure of being able to roll out of bed and right into your office setup a few feet away. However, as the new normal sets in, there is very little separation between your work and your personal life, literally. When is an appropriate time to stop working? Or should you work more since you no longer have that 45 minute commute both ways? These are questions remote professionals have asked themselves as the line between work and home blur. It’s easy to get caught up in the work day and many people have found themselves working more hours remotely than in the office.
Professionals need to set appropriate work-life boundaries. Team leads need to communicate realistic expectations and remind their teams to log off once the work day is over. Managers need to lead by example, this means signing off and not messaging someone at odd hours. It can be helpful to ask questions such as how team members prefer to communicate, what time of day each individual is most productive, and when each prefers to be offline. Be sure to clearly define work schedules.
Having the right software and tools aids in remote collaboration. With so many new platforms being developed, it’s essential to do your research and see what functionalities your team needs.
Asynchronous communication is the opposite of instant communication—it’s when you don’t expect to get an immediate response. Instead of being able to turn to your teammate sitting at the next desk over to ask a quick question, you now have to send an email or chat message. You don’t know when you’ll get a response and this can hinder workflows. In order to optimize asynchronous communication, teams need to clearly define what is urgent and when deadlines are. Set up some guidelines that define what an urgent message is and how it should be flagged with whichever communication tool your team is using. That way, you know when you need to respond right away and also when you can expect a response.
Since asynchronous communication is primarily communicated through text, it’s important to think about what you’re typing. Make sure you are communicating everything you would say as if you were in person—text messages tend to be shorter than a verbal conversation and tone can get lost easily. The Workplaceless team also suggests integrating video asynchronous communication tools, like Loom, to help with verbal and visual cues.
By prioritizing remote-first collaboration practices and tools, you can set your team up for success whether your employees are working from home part-time or full time.
RemoteHQ is offering 20% off 3 months of RemoteHQ for all of our readers. To benefit from this offer use the code WORKPLACELESS.