Keeping everyone engaged on a project is a key attribute to its success. Teams should be synergistic and keep knowledge exchange up, focusing on the common goals you set up for. This is a challenge on in-office work, and can evolve into a huge issue on remote environments. People can’t have lunch together, or get along on happy hour sessions, at least not in the traditional way. This can cause a strange feeling of distance between team members. Like you peers are not your buddies, you know?
If you ever felt like that working remote, you are not alone. That is a pretty common feeling, specially on all remote companies, where you never (or rarely) meet face to face with your colleagues. How to you keep your remote work relationships personal? Like you were sit right next your peer and felt that urge to show him this hilarious meme. Of course, you can be the type of person that doesn’t share a lot of memes around, or even the type who doesn’t have a clue of what hilarious mean, but one thing is certain: human beings need to have some kind of bond among teams in order do collaborate efficiently. We need to feel things (like admiration, respect, empathy) in order to interact positively with our equals. And we are not used to do that separated by a screen. So what can be done?
First things first: remote teams should have daily short (30min tops) meetings to discuss what was done the day before (briefly) and what should be done today. There are several advantages on this kind of meeting, and talking about them is out of the scope of this article.
Yet, this is a perfect chance to bond with your mates. So it is ok to keep a few minutes to open about some funny story or a new thing someone is studying. Don’t forget talking about things that might be blocking you for this workday, the solution might be within someone’s reach. Be sure everyone has their time to speak up. Also, online face to face is very important and readily available for hardly everybody in this context. Don’t be afraid to use it!
Many of what we usually say goes through gestures. So when we start using too much asynchronous communication, which is the case of remote work, we need to be extra careful with our words. They must have more meaning than the usual, or things will go unsaid.
That’s why remote teams should have a strong written culture, and keep constant touch on matters like planning, task execution and whatever else. So even if it seems obvious, do reach out to your peers using the desirable means. Excess of communication is sure better than the lack of it.
Like kids in kindergarten with their nap rooms and big offices with break rooms, remote teams need some space to talk about extra stuff. Memes, tech jokes, whatever. Few things humanize more your teammates than a lame joke. It can be even a slack channel, as long as it’s open, inclusive and, of course, respectful.
Synchronous time is valuable in every scenario, specially remote. But it doesn’t mean there is no room for a inclusive, many to many, interaction. Different people should be in charge of conducting the meeting every now and then, and some of it sections can be handled by newcomers or interns. But it should not be limited to the execution, but also the planning: let people decide what is important or interesting to bring on.
Technology walks closely to remote work. Some would even say it is the technological evolution that brought up the necessity of remote work, at same pace it gives remote teams the foundations needed.
Using the right tools for remote day to day tasks is the main key for keeping things personal, as they usually approach us from our peers and can let things more fluid. Things like Slack centralizes your communication and can be used to let everybody at the same page. Jitsi Meet is the right open source conference tool to gather your teammates and keep the synchronous experience as pleasant as it gets. Exploit tools that give you proximity with your peers and keep the communication flowing!
Very often, challenges on in-office collaboration grow larger on remote environments. The bad news keep coming: most of the co-located procedures don’t translate literally to distributed teams, so we need to think through things one could expect to be solved already. Bond with your colleagues it a key concept for successful teams, and it gets harder when you can’t hang with them face to face after work.
However, you can avoid that the physical distance translates into emotional distance. It is harder, to bond in these scenarios, but quite possible. There are many tools and approaches to help you out, as listed in this article. But mainly, keep your communication channels open and inclusive: listen to your peers and let them suggest how things can get more personal.