At Works, we have experienced the challenges of remote working first-hand. Not only are we adept at seeking out the most talented developers from around the globe, but the majority of our own work is carried out within a distributed team. This gives us a unique insight into the difficulties of managing a remote team, allowing us to offer invaluable guidance and advice.
Staying up-to-date with the latest developments in the business world is essential, so when I stumbled upon the research paper entitled “A Framework of Fostering Trust in Remote Teams” conducted by students at Portland State University in 2023, I was understandably intrigued. After a bit of research, I discovered a similar paper from India’s Indira Gandhi National Tribal University that was more recent. This just goes to show that it is always worth putting in the effort to stay informed about the latest happenings in the business sphere.
As an organisation that prides itself on being at the forefront of the industry, we believe that it is important to compare the guidance we provide through our blog posts and free eBooks to the findings of research and their associated frameworks. This will ensure that we are able to remain up-to-date with the latest developments and trends in the sector.
- Study Results from Portland
- Forming the Team
- Setting up shop as a group
- To Sum It All up: In Transit
- Getting things done
- The Findings of the Indian Research
- The Concept of “e-Leadership”
- CQ, or Cultural Quotient
- Emotional Security
- I feel safe with the people handling us.
Study Results from Portland
At Portland Research, we strive to ensure that our remote teams are comprised of individuals who have been carefully selected for their specialist areas of expertise. This means that we are focused on connecting you with real professionals, rather than just those who are geographically close to your organisation. We often refer to this as the “global talent pool”; we are proud to be able to consistently match the highest calibre of developers with the best businesses, like yours.
In order to foster trust within virtual teams, researchers in Portland have identified four distinct phases: team formation, team organisation, transition and task completion. To ensure trust is established in each phase, it is recommended that the following strategies are implemented:
1. Forming the Team
The cornerstone of successful team building is the establishment of credibility among members. This is why we believe that combining Agile principles with distributed teams is an effective approach. Daily stand-up meetings and the open exchange of ideas and successes are essential for fostering an atmosphere of trust and respect.
In Portland, the project manager was tasked with fostering trust among the stakeholders. It is universally accepted that an effective leader of a virtual team needs to ensure that the team functions efficiently, and this is achievable through proper communication. To this end, it is advisable for the leader to devise a plan that provides new members with the necessary education and information, as well as making sure that team members are cognizant of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We wholeheartedly agree with this approach and have previously published an article on how to successfully onboard remote team members.
It should come as no surprise that we believe the key to constructing a successful team is to ensure that the necessary steps are taken prior to anyone joining the office. Our top priority is the recruiting process. Working remotely provides access to a larger, more diverse range of potential candidates than what might be found through traditional job postings; however, it is not suitable for everyone. It is essential to select someone who is suited to remote working, and who has a proven track record in this field.
2. Setting up shop as a group
The specialists suggest that the second phase of the process is indispensable for sustaining the trust that was developed during the initial phase. Could it be feasible to simply mention Agile again? If you have no understanding of what is being discussed, our complimentary eBook will provide you with a comprehensive introduction.
At the team’s second point, they highlighted the importance of building strong positive relationships between members. We are in full agreement with this sentiment and would encourage all teams to follow this advice. For more advice and ideas on how to develop a successful and productive virtual team, please refer to our previous articles on “virtual team building”. A full list of these articles can be found at the end of this piece.
- Establishing a shared, non-task-related objective in which everyone may participate.
- Encourage your staff to make use of a Slack channel or other such “virtual water cooler.”
- Establishing a period for informal conversation and networking before getting down to business.
- Spending time together in virtual spaces, often to play games. or having a same objective outside of work, like a charity drive.
3. To Sum It All up: In Transit
At this point, Portland advises that the virtual team leader should be available to offer assistance where required. This period of transition, in which the team moves from needing external support in order to become a cohesive unit to a level of maturity, cannot easily be defined. Following this, the team will then move on to…
4. Getting things done
It is hoped that by now, your team will have set out some task-related goals and are making progress towards achieving them. Portland advises that the primary responsibility of a project manager is to keep the team focused, express appreciation for their efforts and celebrate successes when they arise.
Once more, it is worth reiterating that utilising an Agile approach can help to alleviate a great deal of the challenges faced. Regular communication can be beneficial in reminding everyone of the progress being made, and will help to ensure that the team remain focused on the ultimate goal. It is also important to remember that it is often more beneficial to assess success in terms of the output achieved, rather than the input, such as the amount of time spent online. Therefore, staff performance should be evaluated based on the results they produce, rather than the amount of effort they put in.
It is essential to recognise the importance of applauding successes beyond the confines of the team. It is important to ensure that remote workers are not forgotten and that their achievements are recognised. It is essential to show appreciation and offer support to these employees to ensure that their hard work is acknowledged.
The Findings of the Indian Research
The research conducted in India broadly accords with the recommendations outlined in the Portland study. In the following section, we will now discuss the primary areas in which the two theories differ from one another.
1. The Concept of “e-Leadership”
The efficacy of e-leadership is often debated, with proponents suggesting that it involves guiding a group through the use of online platforms and tools instead of traditional face-to-face communication. However, some believe that the transition from on-site to remote leadership does not require any additional skills, as the tasks remain the same regardless of the tools used to carry them out. Although this argument is valid, it is important to note that e-leadership has the potential to bring a range of advantages and efficiencies, and so it is worth exploring further.
As leaders of virtual teams, it is essential to ensure that there are open lines of communication at all times. Regular contact with the team leader helps remote employees to remain connected and prevents them from feeling isolated. Furthermore, utilising an Agile methodology can have a positive impact on the team’s overall performance, and so should not be overlooked.
2. CQ, or Cultural Quotient
As distributed teams become more commonplace, the challenge of bridging cultural differences between team members increases. Indian scholars have long been proponents of cross-cultural education and understanding, and there is much to be learned from their work. We have previously discussed the importance of recognising shared values within a team and the various strategies that can be employed to achieve this. It is essential for distributed teams to take this into consideration if they are to be successful.
- Participating in online office tours or presentations about their hometowns and countries.
- Understanding and appreciating the significance of holidays observed by other civilizations.
The significance of language as an obstacle is also examined in this study. It is often suggested that having a shared language among all team members is the most effective way of ensuring effective communication. It is important to assist those with a non-native language to comprehend idioms and slang, and to provide them with any relevant reading material in advance of a meeting so that they are able to familiarise themselves with any technical terminology that they may come across.
3. Emotional Security
The students of Indira Gandhi National Tribal University who have raised this issue are concerned about reducing the chances of misunderstanding when non-verbal communication plays such an important role in interpersonal relationships. There is no doubt that misunderstanding can occur in text-based discussion, however opinion is divided on how significant body language is to understanding.
In our opinion, it is essential to be aware that certain circumstances may occur. Therefore, it is essential to include a clear explanation of terminology in the employee orientation materials and to encourage employees to ask questions in situations where they are unsure of the meaning. It is important to ascertain whether the behaviour of a colleague is truly irritating before becoming too agitated about the matter.
I feel safe with the people handling us.
Consequently, we are in agreement with the prevailing academic opinion with regards to trust in distributed teams in general. We are delighted to witness these ideas being examined and look forward to a future where remote-ready managers may discover an extraordinary virtual labour force.
At the start of this discussion, we emphasised that the key to developing a successful distributed team is to recruit reliable members. We are delighted to be able to offer our services to you in this regard. If you are in need of a dependable international development specialist, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.