We've all been forced to face a different way of working - whether it's solo or as a team. This blog article suggests six tips to get remote team working right.

Decide on just one virtual meeting solution

Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting - and these are just the open source options, there are also internal platforms. It's important to choose one, then stick to one - and be sure that only one link is communicated. Be careful of calendar invites that automatically put in conferencing links - you don't want someone waiting in Google chat while the rest of you are getting ready to Zoom.

Reduce the number of reference documents you have

It's easy to get carried away with writing policies, guidance documents and standard operating procedures but when it comes to keeping them up to date, it's going to be a bear if you have lots of different documents being managed by lots of different people that are covering lots of different subjects. You may have been in your job for a long time and have a lot of your own knowledge in your head but when it comes to new hires, it's so important to ensure that people can easily access information as if they were with a team in the office.

A good option would be creating your own wiki using something like Notion or Evernote.  They're both great for collaboration and ensuring that corporate memory is kept up to date. Importantly, they're easily accessible (and secure) outside of your IT network.

It's vital that you work on building - and maintaining one source of truth.

Don't assume something is easy or obvious

Everyone learns and consumes knowledge in different ways. It's really important to check with people that the information and resources you are giving them is understood. It's very difficult to check learning when you're working remotely and we miss out on the non-verbal cues we take for granted when working in the same space as someone.

Check in with your coworker and give them the opportunity to ask questions without feeling like they'll be reprimanded or graded down for missing something. It's on everyone to ensure that we all understand each other and have empathy for different learning styles. Providing support to our coworkers is more important than ever.

Define, keep and enforce boundaries

It's no surprise that boundaries have become very blurred since our working environments have changed. People who enjoyed the delineation between home and the office are now struggling to know how and when to start and stop working. We're challenged with all new kinds of distractions and haven't got that routine we used to have.

Be clear about your expectations and allow people the option to switch off. That means shutting down devices, turning off Slack and not taking calls at all hours just because you can. Setting rules such as 'you are not expected to take or make phone calls before 8am' or 'you should not use Slack after 6pm' will help people to know that they are moving from work to home mode.

Some people may prefer to work at different times, but offer flexibility then stick to it.

Don't expect everyone to work well at the same time of day

Early bird, night owl or something in between? Time zones and weather changes? It all affects how and when we do our best work. It's important to take this into consideration if you are always scheduling early morning meetings for people who naturally wake up three hours later or if there are those who need to be in bed early. Flexibility is key and allowing people to work to their natural rhythm will play to their strengths and help them produce their best work.

Now many people are working from home or in different timezones, this means that people are not bound by the same timetable so try to take this into consideration when setting deadlines or team meetings.

Be consistent and do what you say you're going to do

Now more than ever, people are relying on routine, consistency and trust. The support that comes from a manager of a remote team is vital. Being consistent with your actions helps to reassure those you work with, and it's also important to be consistent with coworkers. If you are required to be available and online at certain times, make sure you are and always manage expectations. Be honest about how you prefer to work and show up for others when they need your support.

September 14, 2021

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