For the past four years, I have been able to leverage my software engineering expertise and experience to provide valuable services to a range of organisations from a remote location. This post serves as a documentation of my observations and the practical strategies that I believe are essential for the successful function of distributed teams. It is important to note that the success of a team does not solely depend on the individuals that make up that team. The below strategies are based on the assumption that the team is already comprised of competent individuals. Here are a few methods to foster greater efficiency:
- Investing in a culture that emphasises collaboration and open communication is essential for businesses. Leaders should strive to create an environment that cultivates strong relationships between employees and encourages mutual respect. For example, a simple activity like displaying pictures of each other’s families once a month can help build a sense of community. Establishing strong bonds between team members is fundamental to fostering successful cooperation.
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- It is essential for teams that have both local and remote members to maintain group channels in order to facilitate the discussion of the product. By transferring the conversation to a central channel or group, each team member can keep up to date with the discourse related to the product; it provides uniformity in content and tone. Without this, there is potential for inefficiency and misallocation of resources.
The significance of having a distinct and well-articulated team vision and agreed-upon goals cannot be overstated, which is why it is imperative to introduce a procedure that fosters collaboration in order to reach these objectives. Establishing a well-defined team vision and set of objectives is essential for the success of any team. It enables team members to recognise their role in the team, understand the overall goals, and strive towards achieving them. Moreover, a clear vision and objectives also provide a sense of direction to the team, allowing them to work together in a unified and cohesive way. By introducing a process that encourages cooperation, team members can build trust, develop mutual understanding, and foster strong working relationships to achieve their goals.
- The importance of a reliable internet connection for those who are required to carry out their duties remotely cannot be overstated. With the internet providing a platform for people from all around the globe to connect and cooperate, it is clear that the quality of the internet connection plays a fundamental role in the effectiveness of such collaborations. Poor internet connection can have a detrimental impact on the outcome of any remote meeting, and should be taken into account when planning any such events.
- Investing in a top-notch video conferencing tool can help to optimise the efficacy of team meetings, and mitigate the challenges of collaborating remotely. Although a perfect substitute for in-person interaction is not available, advanced video conferencing software such as Zoom can provide a substantial solution to communication issues. I recommend selecting a tool that offers high-definition video conferencing, clear voice conversations, screen sharing and whiteboarding as the absolute minimum. Screen sharing can be utilised for more than just presentations; it can also be employed to support pair programming with colleagues.
- If a team member is joining a meeting remotely, it is essential that all other members of the meeting do the same. This ensures that everyone is accessing the same medium for the discussion, avoiding any potential for those in the office to engage in conversations that the remote worker may miss. This allows for an equitable exchange of ideas and opinions and ensures that all participants have an equal opportunity to contribute.
- It is essential to establish a designated window of time each day when all members of the team are available to communicate online. This is an important step in creating an environment of collaboration and allowing team members to have access to assistance when needed. By setting a designated time, team members are better able to organise their work schedules and workloads. The company leadership can decide the total number of required hours for the workweek; a reasonable starting point would be five hours.
It is highly recommended that the firm schedules an offsite at least once a year, provided that funds are available. Attending an offsite offers a unique opportunity to strengthen company culture and strengthen the bonds between team members. Offsites often create a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere, leading to an increase in employee morale, productivity, and job satisfaction, as well as a decrease in turnover. Additionally, offsites often lead to better collaboration and the generation of new and innovative ideas.