In my first post, I discussed the Communication principle and how important it is to take your time crafting messages in a remote environment, so your words aren’t lost, and miscues are limited. The next principle I want to dive into is collaboration. This principle revolves around the idea that staying connected in a remote setting takes everyone working together to make it successful. It’s critical that teams are able to get into a work rhythm that adds to your overall goals and objectives the same way they would in-office. For that to happen, it may require some trial and error, as not everyone works efficiently in the same way. Here are some tips to keep in mind that our BerganKDV teams utilized to maximize our virtual collaborative efforts.
Organize Work Sprints: During a sprint, two or more people sign into a video conference and, after exchanging a few hellos, settle into their individual projects. They keep their video applications on but move them to the back of their desktops and work individually in relative silence. Breaks are scheduled at a designated stopping point, but not required. While sprints may not seem like ideal moments to socialize, the non-work discussions at the beginning of the call, the opportunity to view someone else’s work or study habits, and the small breaks you take together are all ways to build cadence.
Stay in Touch: When people work remotely, they often fall into the “out of sight, out of mind” category. When this is the case, managers and coworkers alike often make the mistake of only connecting with people when there is a problem or if they need something. Now, more than ever, we need to check in regularly with our peers. This may be a simple text or a virtual coffee to talk through any challenges. Show people you care by remembering that they are there!
Make it Safe to Ask for Help: Offer help to others at every opportunity. Also, show others it is okay to ask for help by doing it yourself. By asking for help ourselves, it supports others to feel safe to do the same.
Be Forgiving and Patient: If your team member turns in a report late, sends an email without cc’ing you, or makes a mistake, remember to be forgiving and patient. We are all managing an increased cognitive load during this new way of living and working. It is inevitable mistakes will happen. Instead of chastising someone for dropping the ball, take time to check in. Whether we are in a crisis or not, how we respond when people make a mistake has a profound impact on if they feel safe when they are around us.
Meet in Person: Some remote advocates downplay the importance of meeting up in person, but thoughtful, in-person meetups or retreats are one of the most impactful levers you have at your disposal. Meeting in person a few times a year is ideal to maintain connections and relationships. You may also consider having new hires meet in-person with their manager to speed up the pace of onboarding and knowledge transfer. A major reason why meeting up in-person is so helpful is because it creates an opportunity to have richer discussion around high-level concepts like team strategy, but it also creates a perfect place for informal discussion and getting to know others.
If you can meet in person as a team, here are two things to keep in mind – 1) don’t make it all about work, take advantage of the opportunity to do team-building activities and other activities you can’t do on a regular basis; and 2) the little things matter! Some of my fondest memories of team meetups are having dinner, drinks, and swapping stories with coworkers.
Achieving effective collaboration in a remote environment doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a gradual process that takes time to nurture and it requires everyone’s contributions to make it happen. Stay tuned for my next post in which we will discuss the third core principle, Culture.