Transitioning to Fully Distributed Teams: More than Technology

With the COVID-19 pandemic changing the way we work, many people have had to move their work to a remote setting. In order to stay productive during this unprecedented time, Gartner has coined the phrase “the world’s biggest work-from-home experiment.” To help keep up with the demands that come with working remotely, it is highly recommended that teams take advantage of tools such as Slack and Zoom. These are great resources for helping to maintain productivity and collaboration in a remote setting.

The implementation of telecommuting among engineering firms is no longer novel; it has been a commonplace practice for some time now. However, simply having access to the necessary resources is not enough to guarantee success. Teams must also be equipped with the knowledge and skills to effectively utilise these resources. According to Gartner, this is an opportune moment to take advantage of and develop strategies that will be able to meet future workplace and employee needs.

In the Beginning, There Is Culture

Teams transitioning to a remote working model should create specific guidelines to ensure successful communication and collaboration. According to Christopher Jordan, Head of Engineering at Blackboard, “It isn’t the distributed employees who fail, it is the companies that hire them that fail”, and this often has to do with “the culture and leadership” of the organisation. To create a successful remote team, it is important to cultivate a culture that encourages creativity and embraces the need to adapt to changing circumstances.

Institutional Guidelines for Working Together

It is essential to establish protocols and expectations for how team members should use applications such as Slack and video conferencing tools like Zoom to ensure that they are used productively and consistently. The Chief Technology Officer of the organisation recommends that all remote workers join all meetings via video. This helps to save a significant amount of time, as there is no need to ask who is on the call or if everyone is ready to start the meeting. With video, it is easy to identify when it is a good time to begin.

Keep Cultivating Your Community and Nurturing Your Connections

If you are looking to maintain a strong and cohesive team after it is established, then it is important to invest the necessary time and energy in creating a positive work atmosphere and strengthening connections between team members. If your team is planning to grow by welcoming new engineering staff, this information will prove beneficial. You can make the process of integrating new personnel smoother by implementing rituals and procedures.

Creating and maintaining a culture in the workplace can be simpler than one might expect. With the possibility of virtual routines, employees no longer need to attend a physical location to interact with one another. Rather, this interaction can take place via video conferencing, allowing for a more personal, “face-to-face” style of communication.

In order to foster an atmosphere of camaraderie, the Vice President of Talent at Works suggests introducing ice-breaker questions to team meetings. Such questions can provide an opportunity for members to introduce themselves and share something about their experiences. This can help to create a sense of humanity and connection, similar to what one may experience in the workplace break room. However, when it comes to distributed teams, it is often easy to overlook the importance of non-work banter, so it is important to ensure that it is encouraged.

How Things Really Work

As your team grows, the procedures, rules, and regulations that you initially established will become ingrained in their daily routines. Although the process may feel awkward or unnatural in the beginning, it is important to take a light-hearted approach to any mistakes that may be made along the way. With time, the team will recognise the benefits of embracing these practices in terms of accountability and transparency, and will come to regard them as a major contributor to the success of the organisation.

Related Article: How to Create a Workplace Culture Employees Will Never Want to Leave

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