Gone are the days when you had to convince your boss to let you work from home. The current pandemic crisis has led to entire workforces functioning remotely, with the Twitter CEO even announcing that Twitter employees can work from home ‘forever’. Which brings us to the main reason why we’re here – remote work is here to stay. It is a thing of the present and the post-pandemic era – the future will see at least a part of the workforce being distributed and you’ll probably be working with remote teams.
Virtually coordinating with your team and getting work done can be challenging. The regular office camaraderie may not be there. Distractions are aplenty, in the absence of an office environment. Briefs over phone calls and texts may lead to gaps in what is communicated. There will be setbacks like these, but the benefits outweigh them. In this article we talk about five best practices for remote team collaboration that will help you become a better team player.
One of the biggest problems with remote work is the clarity of communication. You need to ensure that your briefs and updates are extremely clear, otherwise, there’s a chance that the message is lost. Don’t hesitate to point out your wins and milestones, as they’re often missed out in the remote working scenario. Encourage yourself to regularly communicate with your team, so that they know you are available, when they need assistance.
Written communication is going to be a major part of your work, be it on instant messaging apps or emails. So get used to it and understand basic netiquettes. Avoid spamming your colleagues with messages, especially communicating the same thing in multiple channels to the same person. This is a major let down and can cause stress or annoy your colleagues.
Pay Attention To Your ‘Virtual Persona’
While there is no such thing as ‘text persona’, the tone of your messages or emails can be misinterpreted, as they’re not the same as face-to-face conversations. Your ‘virtual persona’, i.e., the way you present yourself during audio and video interactions are equally important.
Pay attention to all of this if you want to avoid unnecessary anxiety and conflicts.
One good way to tackle this is to try and become better conversationalists.Whenever possible, you can reach out to colleagues over voice or video calls instead of text/emails. Not all of us are great at making conversation, but simple tips, such as being brief and to the point, listening when someone speaks without interrupting and not multitasking while holding conversations can go a long way in improving your interactions. Daily catch-ups with the team over conference calls can also help you communicate requirements with team members. It’s simpler and leaves no room for misinterpretation.
On the other hand, when it’s necessary to communicate something important over email, don’t miss out on what’s important in a professional scenario – email etiquette. Inaccurate subject lines, the lack of a professional salutation while initiating conversation and grammatical errors are some of the important things you need to pay close attention to.
Get Stuff Done – By Default
The ones who thrive in remote teams are the doers – people who get stuff done by themselves. Even in the absence of a brief on what to work on, good remote team workers identify tasks of priority and get started on working, without being asked to.
This will be an important quality to foster when working remotely, where a lack of communication and the absence of initiative can lead to delays and unproductive days. Find yourself work to be engaged with, even during days when you feel lost and there’s nothing much for you to do.
In fact, ‘not having much to do’ is a great opportunity for you to build a rapport with colleagues. If you have the bandwidth, offer to help out a fellow team member with work. That being said, the best way to offer your help is to just make it clear that you are available for help. Instead of being insistent, which poses the threat of sounding intrusive, just let them know that you’re available to pitch in if the need arises.
Be An Active Part Of The Company Culture
Do your part in fostering a positive work culture in your remote team. Whenever you can, take part in fun virtual activities that your team members organise, attend virtual coffee breaks and parties, that serve as a great substitute for break-room and office banter.
Take your time to learn about everyone in your team. Be approachable and encourage your colleagues to be open about feedback and communication.
Trust & Empathy Is Key
Trust is the single most important thing to keep in mind if you want to bond and work with your team in a better way. The first step towards building trust is to be responsive and reliable. Timely communication is critical when your teammates reach out to you for help.
Secondly, a positive remote work environment can be established only if trust and empathy go hand in hand. Go ahead and make those personal connections, through conversations outside of work. Get to know your colleagues better and make an effort to understand their perspective.
Be understanding when a colleague’s personal circumstances cause delays in a task getting completed. Things like these happen and it’s okay. Offer extra help wherever you can, and discourage playing the blame-game.
Remote work will be part of our lives for many more months to come (if not, for years). Trust, empathy, communication, bonding, self-starting and taking initiatives will be key to how you perform as a remote-working team player.
Was this article helpful for you? Type away in the comments section and tell us how you’re coping with remote work.
If you’ve recently joined a new workplace and you’re working with a remote team, then congratulations! To help you get settled in, we have put together five highly effective tips that will help you adjust to your new job. Click here to start reading.
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