Today more and more people decide to work remotely as it has a lot of benefits, for instance, a better work-life balance and opportunity for employers to pick from a wider pool of talent. In accordance with the recent estimates from Gallup and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 22% of Americans work from home, while nearly 50% are involved with remote or virtual teamwork.
Also, companies are becoming more comfortable allowing their employees and teams to manage their work remotely. According to recent studies, most businesses have admitted that remote teams and freelancers are more productive and engaged at work .
Remote work causes a new range of behaviours and skills and as a result, demand new collaboration skills. What’s missing from our texts, emails, conference calls, and other digital communications?
First of all, remote communication can distort normal conversation. There are a lot of situations which get us annoyed or concerned. For instance, delays between the messages, especially, if it is something urgent. Because of the lack of immediate response, we can become distracted or even frustrated with our teams. Another typical situation is late messages, which may cause some conflicts and hidden negative emotions. Would your boss see your late night email and consider it to be an intrusion on his or her private time? Also, there are a lot of other situations which can spread the misunderstanding in the team and here are two basic rules which help you to avoid the pitfalls.
- regular video calls, which are the best way for establishing rapport and creating empathy in a team.
- design virtual team-building rituals that give people the opportunity to interact regularly and experience their collaboration skills in action.
To perform at the highest levels, remote teams have to find new and better ways to operate. Here are some best practices to master:
Brief vs Clear communications: It is important to remember that brief message don’t mean a clear message. Don’t assume that others understand your cues and shorthand. Sometimes, it’s better to write longer one and present your idea as clear as you can.
Message bombarding: Is it common for you to follow up on tasks time and again? Do you tend to ask people if they got your previous message? Sometimes it can be a relentless and uncomfortable form of harassment. Don’t be too annoying, message wisely.
Rules and norms: New rules and norms should be established within a remote team. Of course, it’s up to you in what way it can be implemented. For example, Merck company have created acronyms for their digital communications like “Four Hour Response (4HR)” and “No Need to Respond (NNTR)” that bring predictability and certainty to virtual conversations. Also, important to choose the tools for communication Slac, Whatsapp group or Skype chat. Preferred response time, writing style, and tone can also be discussed in advance in order to avoid conflicts and misunderstanding.
You can make that easier for others by establishing a clear personal etiquette and sticking to it consistently.
Virtual team-building rituals: Communication and socializing of members of the team are very important, so team building and some traditions or celebration is an integral part of a friendly and motivated team Find ways to shorten the affinity distance and it will strengthen relationships and lay the foundation for future collaboration. You can find your own unique way to create team spaces for social connection and here you may find some variants:
“We all use Skype messenger during the day and have two fun groups: Coffee Talk (which is used to talk about anything coworkers would talk about while making morning coffee in the office kitchen: kids, hobbies, last night shenanigans). The other group chat is: Happy Hour (we all cheers when it’s happy hour time with emojis, and cheers to the weekend).”
– Lani Gregory, digital analyst and PR coordinator at hotelmarketingWorksHow you do it is less important than whether you do.
“It’s so important to create ‘face time,’ and in our case we rely heavily on Google to make this happen. We make sure to have at least one video call per week, during which we will often take a moment to show ‘where we are.’ What’s out the window, how hard is it snowing, which pets are around, what new art did a team member put up in his or her apartment? We also do a round of ‘team travel updates’ each week, in which we report on all travel over the next two weeks.”
– Danielle Robin, director of content strategy at CatalystCreativ
Hidden opportunities behind the screen: All the teams consist of diverse and different talents and personalities, and always there are people who might be less inclined to speak out in groups so it is opportunity fot them to feel at home in chat. Text-based communication places less importance on interpersonal skills and physical appearance, offering an effective way to share power and decision-making.