Remote Teams: 6 Ways to Work Better Together

For a number of years, there has been a debate around the merits of telecommuting, with some critics claiming that it can be difficult to work together when people are in different locations. This disagreement appears to have first arisen in 2023, when Google announced plans for the design of its new headquarters, which placed a strong emphasis on ‘accidental collisions’ between employees, in order to create more opportunities for idea sharing and collaboration. As a result of this initiative, there was a 15% improvement in output attributed to better teamwork.

In the same year, Marissa Meyer, the then-CEO of Yahooten, convened her remote team. Even this year, when BNY Mellon tried to bring their digital nomads back to the office, they used this as justification, which was not well-received.

The reality is that telecommuting is a rapidly evolving field. In a year, let alone 6. Software developers work best from home, and they want to work from home (along with upwards of 80% of the population) so they’re motivated to create great tools to help make working from home successful.

In the present day, collaboration between individuals from around the world is becoming increasingly simpler. This is achieved through the involvement of a diverse range of departments, such as developers, designers, artists and business professionals. If you and your remote team are still struggling to work together effectively, here are six points to consider:

The Internet’s Answer to the Water Cooler

This debate has been conducted on numerous occasions; yes, this familiar and often-repeated discussion. It has been established that Google’s assertion was accurate, namely that collaboration is optimised by “casual collisions,” which involves employees randomly crossing paths. This communication fosters a sense of camaraderie and trust, both of which are integral components of successful collaboration. Great!

Creating a dedicated “water cooler” channel within your chosen team chat application is a popular solution for remote working teams. This dedicated channel offers an opportunity for team members to get to know each other and exchange lighthearted conversations, jokes and anecdotes. If you do not yet have a chat solution in place, here are some suggestions to consider. In some cases, it has been found to be beneficial to prevent managers from joining the channel, or to set up a separate channel where members can communicate without worrying about being monitored.

Training the Team

Gathering a remote team in one place to tackle a trust breakdown is a complicated task. Unfortunately, many of us have experienced team-building exercises that have gone wrong, and the mere mention of the phrase “team building” can fill people with dread and conjure up images of a scene from ‘The Office’.

By being in a geographically dispersed location, you are presented with the unique challenge of having to be creative in how you build and maintain team morale. To help with this, it is suggested that you introduce a regular practice of ‘getting to know you’ sessions into your team meetings, allowing members to introduce themselves, show off their workspace, and share photos from home. Additionally, why not suggest a Google Hangout session from time to time, with everyone leaving their webcams open for the duration of the day? This can be a great way to help people to get to know each other better and build relationships, even from a distance.

Collaborative tasks may also be accomplished via the use of online games. Whether it’s your own Quake server, forming a guild on Neverwinter, or playing together via the Uno app there are options for every taste. The important thing is to spend time together doing something other than working.

Sharpen your implements!

At Works, we are continuously searching for new and innovative software options that support remote working. In the current environment, it is easier than ever to find the right solution for any size of team, regardless of the scope of the project. We hope the following resources will prove to be useful in making the transition to remote working smoother.

  • Annotation

    Tools such as GoVisually and Skitch, which enable viewers to add annotations to screenshots and graphical user interface designs, could be beneficial when seeking feedback from colleagues. Both of these tools provide the capability to engage in asynchronous conversations using pointers in real-time or to post comments for others to read at a time that is convenient for them. Hotjar is a useful feature that allows you to record user sessions; this offers additional insight into how visitors interact with your website, enabling you to optimise conversion rates.
  • Brainstorming

    Mindmeister is our go-to for off-the-cuff ideas generation, but Ideaflip is where it’s at for more immediate needs.
  • Whiteboards

    All of us can relate to the feeling of pride when we are positioned in the front of the classroom with a marker in our hand. It is an emotion that we all share. Therefore, let us move forward. The AWW app is the ideal platform for non-immediate conversations, while RealTimeBoard is our preferred option for urgent meetings.
  • Online video meetings

    Investing in a superior video conferencing system is the optimum solution for teams who are working remotely, as it provides the closest experience to meeting in person. Whilst Skype and Zoom are the most common services, they are not the only options available to dispersed teams.

It is important to remember that the information provided here is not a complete list of the resources required for an effective remote team. In addition to this, versions control, task management and file sharing should also be taken into account.

Put in Place a Culture of Teamwork

That’s why the Agile development approach is so appealing to us. For remote teams is the daily stand up. For the uninitiated, that’s a meeting where each member shares their progress, successes and sticking points. Every team member gets to see what the others are capable of, to celebrate progress and to help out when there are issues; and that helps a team to bond.

It is essential to create a workplace environment where employees feel comfortable expressing their opinions and raising any issues they may have. Employees should not take any criticism personally, and it is important to foster a culture of collaboration, allowing individuals to feel safe when sharing their thoughts and ideas. To ensure a productive and supportive atmosphere, we recommend adopting the principle of Hanlon’s Razor, which is a simplified version of Occam’s Razor and states: “Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by ignorance” – in other words, we should always assume that the other person does not understand what we are saying.

Take Notice of Distinctions

The advantages of utilising the international talent pool are plentiful, from accessing the most proficient developers to developing a more culturally varied workforce. However, when working with individuals whose native language is not English, it is important to bear in mind that some linguistic support may be necessary.

Set some ground rules for how you’ll handle meetings. Use slang terms or colloquialisms as these can be confusing to non-native speakers. It can also be helpful to compile a glossary of some of the more unusual terms your team uses that can act as a guide. If there are any supporting materials going out with a meeting, send them out well in advance so your non-native speakers have more time to digest the content before the meeting.

Engage Remote-Ready Workers

Most individuals, as we’ve established, prefer remote jobs, yet not everyone is cut out to do so. A good remote worker isn’t just someone who is technically proficient, they also need to be capable of staying on task and working out problems by themselves; especially if they are in a different time zone to the rest of the team.

If you give us the responsibility of recruiting a new programmer, we will carefully assess each CV we provide you with to guarantee that the candidates we offer you have the necessary qualifications and experience working remotely. We can take the hassle out of finding a remote IT specialist and complete the process within two weeks. Is this agreeable to you? If so, please get in touch straight away to find out more.

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