As a remote-first organisation, Works is familiar with the challenges of distributed work. Our expertise in curating a team of highly skilled developers from around the world, combined with our own experience of remote work, positions us to provide invaluable advice and guidance on the nuances of managing distributed teams.
Remaining current with the latest trends in the business landscape is imperative for success. While reading an intriguing research paper called “A Framework of Fostering Trust in Remote Teams” by Portland State University students in 2023, I came across a more recent paper from India’s Indira Gandhi National Tribal University. This highlights the importance of staying up-to-date with the most recent business developments and continuously improving our knowledge in this area.
At Works, we strive to be industry leaders and understand the value of benchmarking the insights provided in our blog posts and free eBooks against research findings and frameworks. This approach allows us to continuously update our knowledge of the latest developments and trends in the sector, ensuring we remain ahead of the curve.
- Analyze findings from Portland’s research
- Creating the team
- Establishing a joint workspace
- In summary: While travelling
- Completing tasks
- Key takeaways from the Indian study
- The idea of “e-Leadership”
- Cultural Intelligence, also known as CQ
- Emotional well-being
- I have a sense of security with the individuals taking care of us.
Research findings from Portland
Portland Research is committed to building remote teams that consist of individuals who have been handpicked for their exceptional expertise in their respective areas. This means that we prioritize linking you up with actual professionals, rather than just limiting ourselves to professionals within close proximity to your organization. We frequently refer to this as the “global talent pool”; we take pride in connecting top-notch developers with leading businesses like yours, always.
To promote trust within virtual teams, Portland researchers have recognised four distinct stages: team creation, team structure, transitioning and task fulfillment. To establish trust effectively throughout each stage, the following strategies should be considered:
1. Building the Team
Establishing credibility among members is pivotal for effective team building. This is why we believe that combining Agile principles with distributed teams is a productive strategy. Holding daily stand-up meetings and encouraging discussions of ideas and achievements are crucial in cultivating a culture of trust and mutual respect.
In Portland, the project manager was responsible for instilling trust among the stakeholders. It is widely acknowledged that an effective leader of a remote team must ensure the team is functioning efficiently, which can be achieved through proper communication. As such, it is recommended for the leader to create a plan which includes providing new members with the necessary training and information, as well as ensuring team members are aware of each other’s strengths and limitations. We fully endorse this approach and have previously released an article on how to onboard remote team members effectively.
It’s hardly surprising that we deem the most critical aspect of building a successful team is ensuring that the required preparations are executed before anyone joins the team. Our foremost priority is the recruitment process. While working remotely grants access to a broader and more diverse pool of potential candidates than traditional hiring, it is not suitable for everyone. It is crucial to select an individual who is well-suited to remote work and has a proven track record in this area.
2. Setting up as a team
Experts propose that the second stage of the process is crucial in maintaining the trust that was established in the initial phase. Would it be reasonable to reiterate the importance of Agile? If you’re unfamiliar with the subject matter, our complimentary eBook offers a comprehensive introduction.
During the team’s second stage, they emphasised the significance of fostering robust and positive relationships between members. We wholeheartedly agree with this perspective and encourage all teams to adopt this approach. For additional tips and suggestions on how to form a successful and efficient remote team, please refer to our previous articles on “virtual team building”. A complete list of these articles can be located at the conclusion of this piece.
- Cultivating a shared objective that isn’t task-related, which everyone can contribute to.
- Prompt your team to utilise a Slack channel, or a comparable “virtual water cooler.”
- Allocating time for casual conversations and networking prior to commencing work.
- Allocating time to interact in virtual environments, which can include playing games together or working towards a shared objective outside of work, such as a charity fundraiser.
3. In Conclusion: On the Move
At this stage, Portland recommends that the virtual team leader should be accessible to provide aid when needed. This period of transformation, during which the team transitions from requiring external assistance in order to become a united group to a state of autonomy, is difficult to ascertain. Subsequently, the team will proceed to…
4. Accomplishing Objectives
By this point, it’s anticipated that your team has established some task-oriented objectives and is advancing towards achieving them. According to Portland, the main responsibility of a project manager is to maintain the team’s focus, show appreciation for their hard work and acknowledge successes when they occur.
Once again, it’s worth emphasising that adopting an Agile approach can alleviate many of the challenges encountered. Regular communication can serve as a reminder of the progress being made and serve to keep the team focused on their end objective. It’s also crucial to bear in mind that it’s frequently more advantageous to assess success based on output rather than input, such as the length of time spent online. As a result, performance evaluations should be based on the outcomes produced rather than the effort expended by team members.
It’s crucial to acknowledge the significance of acknowledging successes beyond the team’s boundaries. It’s important to recognise remote workers and honour their accomplishments. Expressing appreciation and providing support to these employees is critical to ensure that their efforts are acknowledged.
The Results of the Indian Research
The research performed in India predominantly aligns with the suggestions put forth in the Portland report. In the subsequent section, we will examine the key areas in which the two theories differ.
1. The Idea of “e-Leadership”
The effectiveness of e-leadership is a subject of frequent debate. Some proponents argue that it entails leading a team by utilising online platforms and tools instead of conventional face-to-face interaction. However, some contend that shifting from on-site to remote leadership does not necessitate any additional skills, as the tasks remain the same, regardless of the tools employed to accomplish them. While this argument is reasonable, it’s crucial to acknowledge that e-leadership can produce a range of benefits and efficiencies, making it worth further exploration.
As leaders of virtual teams, it’s crucial to maintain open channels of communication at all times. Frequent communication with the team leader helps remote workers stay connected and avoids feelings of isolation. Additionally, adopting an Agile approach can significantly enhance the team’s performance, making it an important consideration.
2. CQ, aka Cultural Quotient
As distributed teams become more prevalent, the difficulty of bridging cultural gaps among team members grows. Indian scholars have long advocated for cross-cultural education and understanding, and there is much to be gained from their research. We have previously emphasised the importance of acknowledging shared values within a team and implementing strategies to achieve this. It’s critical for distributed teams to consider this if they hope to succeed.
- Partaking in virtual office tours or presentations detailing their hometowns and countries.
- Comprehending and valuing the importance of holidays celebrated by other cultures.
This study also examines the importance of language as a barrier. It’s often advised that having a common language among all team members is the most effective approach to ensure efficient communication. It’s crucial to assist those with a non-native language by clarifying idiomatic expressions and jargon and providing them with relevant reading materials before a meeting so that they can familiarise themselves with any technical terms they may encounter.
3. Psychological Safety
The students of Indira Gandhi National Tribal University who have brought up this concern are anxious about minimising the likelihood of misinterpretation in situations where non-verbal communication plays a crucial part in interpersonal relationships. Although misunderstandings can arise in text-based discussions, opinions vary on how essential body language is in comprehension.
In our view, it’s crucial to recognise that certain situations may arise. Therefore, it’s necessary to provide a clear definition of terminology in employee orientation materials and encourage them to ask questions if they’re uncertain about the meaning. It’s crucial to determine whether a colleague’s behaviour is genuinely irritating before getting too upset about it.
I feel secure with the individuals handling us.
Hence, we correspond with the prevailing academic stance on trust within distributed teams as a whole. We are thrilled to see these concepts being explored and anticipate a time when managers prepared for remote work could find an exceptional virtual workforce.
As we stated earlier in this conversation, the cornerstone of building a prosperous distributed team is to hire trustworthy members. We are pleased to provide our services to you in this regard. If you require a dependable international development specialist, please feel free to reach out to us.