How to Stay Connected as a Remote Team
In this post, we want to share some key tips and strategies on how you can stay connected as a remote team and create a culture of togetherness. While your organization may have its differences and quirks, these first principles can help your team stay connected—wherever you are.
Ways to Stay Connected When Digitally Collaborating
To start, one of the first things that you should embrace is asynchronous communication. Since Covid-19 locked down much of the world, we have constantly been hearing about Zoom and Zoom meetings. Granted, Zoom is a powerful tool, but it isn’t the only tool that you can use to collaborate.
Asynchronous communication is so powerful because it lets you communicate on your own time. Instead of you and your colleagues meeting at exactly the same time, you can meet on your own schedule. It is also powerful if you are collaborating over different time zones (or even continents). Whether you are using an asynchronous video tool or messaging tool (like Slack), don’t hesitate to embrace synchronicity within your work. You and your colleagues will be thankful.
Project Management Tools
From asynchronous communication, you should seriously consider using project management tools. Project management tools are so powerful because you can easily see which of your colleagues are working on what tasks. Instead of sending countless emails back and forth, you can pull up a project management tool like GitLab or Asana and see where everyone is at.
According to one survey from GetApp, almost half of respondents use a project management tool every single day. They are invaluable tools, whether you are collaborating in-person or remotely. If you haven’t already invested in them, seriously consider opting-in today.
Next, make sure that you are delivering consistent feedback. Feedback is important regardless of where the work is completed. One survey by Harvard Business Review revealed that 72% of employees believed their performance would be improved if managers provided corrective feedback. Yet while feedback is treasured by employees, it often isn’t provided. Even if it is provided, it isn’t properly provided.
Even though the challenges of feedback may be more difficult in a remote-first world, you can still deliver productive feedback to your employees. For instance, make sure that you have scheduled regular feedback, whether that is on a weekly or monthly basis. When delivering feedback, make sure that it is constructive. Instead of criticizing a colleague for poor performance, offer some actionable advice on how they can improve their performance. By consistently delivering high-quality feedback, you and your colleagues will improve your performance, better collaborate remotely, and create a better experience for your clients.
Finally, make sure that you have scheduled “watercooler” time. There are so many benefits to remote work, ranging from the lack of a commute to spending more time with your family. That being said, those watercooler moments are missed. It is much harder to gather around during some downtime and build solid personal relationships with your colleagues.
It isn’t the same online, but you can be deliberate about making this watercooler time in a digital-first world. One great idea is to create a specific Slack or Microsoft Teams channel where your colleagues can chat about anything that is on their minds. It can be everything from good news about your organization to their thoughts on a recent sports game. Whatever the case may be, having this watercooler time can de-stress your colleagues and allow them to build and maintain strong ties—even if they are not in the same room.
Although they're hard to schedule, events like virtual talent shows or game nights can go along way toward creating camaraderie and a feeling of togetherness. The one thing you want to make sure of though is that these events are scheduled at a time when all people are able to make it. It's important that everyone has equal footing and opportunity in the organization, otherwise you risk some feeling like outcasts.
Staying Connected and Collaborative
Even though we are still trying to figure out the best way to work remotely, these first principles will help you get the most out of your remote work arrangement. Whether you are working with a small remote team or a larger remote team, emphasize communication. Try to avoid too many scheduled meetings. Above all else, keep your company’s mission in mind. Doing so will help you stay both connected and collaborative.