Over the last few years, remote work has slowly become the new normal. Once a far-fetched reality, working from the comfort of your home, a trendy new cafe, or even a vacation destination is the new corporate landscape. While we can all agree we don’t miss the morning commute to the office, working and leading in a remote setting presents its own new set of challenges.
As a fully remote company, 7Factor has substantial experience with managing remote teams. So, we naturally looked to our own teams and asked our engineers about their experience working remotely and their advice for leading remote teams.
What is a remote team?
Operating remotely introduces a unique culture that requires special care and attention. Our engineers have observed how the freedom of choosing workspaces can boost productivity and team morale. However, the absence of traditional office-based accountability and management can lead to challenges in maintaining control and preventing distractions.
Amidst the considerable distractions, remote teams face a multitude of other hurdles. Let's navigate the path to fostering successful remote teamwork.
The challenges of leading remote teams
Leading remote teams brings its own set of unique challenges, from navigating digital meetings to maintaining focus and productivity. Below, we'll explore some common hurdles faced by remote leaders and share effective strategies to tackle them head-on.
Navigating Remote Meetings
Remote meetings can often lead to confusion about who should speak when causing disruptions and members talking over one another. To address this, adopt a practice of calling on individual team members to speak. This approach clarifies the speaking order and fosters smoother communication. Additionally, after a team member speaks and mentions another member, allow the mentioned member to provide any necessary clarifications to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Sustaining Focus and Progress
Maintaining focus and progress while working remotely can be challenging. It's essential to find ways to keep team members engaged and motivated without becoming overbearing. Consider implementing a shared task board where everyone can see the progress of their peers, creating a sense of accountability and accomplishment. Furthermore, incorporate fun activities like remote company events such as trivia nights on Zoom or movie nights to foster team camaraderie and break the monotony of daily work.
Building an Enjoyable Work Environment
While work is undoubtedly a serious endeavor, it should also be an enjoyable and rewarding experience for your team. Cultivate an environment where team members genuinely enjoy working together and collaborating. Encourage open communication, provide opportunities for social interactions, and celebrate achievements, no matter how small. A positive work environment boosts team morale and encourages increased productivity and creativity.
By addressing the challenges of remote leadership proactively, you can create a cohesive and thriving remote team. Embrace effective communication practices during meetings, devise strategies to keep the team focused, and foster a supportive and enjoyable work atmosphere. Remember, a successful remote team is one that feels energized and motivated to tackle challenges and achieve collective success.
How to enable remote teams for equal and/or more productivity
Working from home offers flexibility and convenience, but it also presents unique challenges, such as distractions and potential communication gaps. Let’s explore effective ways to not only mitigate distractions but also enhance overall productivity while working remotely.
Streamlining Communication: Avoiding Lengthy Meetings
Long meetings can disrupt workflow and decrease productivity. Instead, consider leveraging team collaboration software to communicate with your team members individually or in smaller groups. This approach allows for focused discussions without the need to gather the entire team at once.
Utilizing Team Collaboration Platforms
Having a centralized platform, such as Slack or Microsoft Teams, can significantly enhance communication efficiency. Team members know they can easily reach you and others, fostering a continuous flow of information. Additionally, these platforms enable conversations to be categorized by team members and topics, providing organization and clarity.
Transparency and Knowledge Sharing
By keeping conversations in a shared space, team members gain valuable insights into ongoing projects. This transparency not only helps them understand the bigger picture but also encourages them to ask questions and contribute ideas comfortably. As a result, collaboration and problem-solving thrive within the team.
Incorporating these strategies into your remote work routine can lead to a more focused and connected team. By mitigating distractions and enhancing communication, you'll create an environment conducive to productivity and success, even in a remote setting.
Helpful tools for collaboration with remote teams
In the realm of remote work, the right tools and strategies are essential to overcome obstacles and create a productive and engaged team. Our team of engineers have identified several helpful tools and techniques that facilitate seamless collaboration among remote teams. Let's explore these resources to build a thriving virtual work environment:
Team Communication Software:
Utilize robust team communication platforms like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom to foster continuous engagement and connectivity among team members. These platforms offer various features, including chat channels, file sharing, and integrations with other productivity tools.
Regular Video Conferencing:
Organize scheduled video conferences or virtual meetings to recreate the sense of camaraderie found in a physical office. Face-to-face interactions promote stronger team bonds, enhance communication, and boost overall team morale.
Instant Messaging and Group Chats:
Enable instant messaging and group chat features within your chosen communication software. These tools facilitate quick discussions, idea sharing, and problem-solving, making it easier for team members to collaborate in real time.
Co-Working through Calls:
Consider staying on a call with some of your colleagues throughout the working day. Our engineers find this approach incredibly useful as it not only helps them stay focused on tasks but also provides a reliable support network to tackle any obstacles that arise. Co-working calls create a virtual office space, encouraging collaboration and teamwork.
By incorporating these essential tools and techniques into your remote work routine, you can elevate your team's productivity and cohesion. Effective communication, virtual face-to-face interactions, and real-time collaboration pave the way for a successful remote team that thrives despite the physical distance.
How to make meetings useful
As we're sure you all know, meetings are a crucial part of a workday, whether they're remote or in person. They provide a platform for collaboration, discussion, and decision-making. However, what you may not know is how some meetings can turn out to be utterly useless and a waste of valuable time. Let's delve into how we can ensure that our meetings are productive and meaningful, and what to do if they fall short of expectations.
While having team members gather together can certainly facilitate progress on a project, it can also become a hindrance if it's merely done for the sake of having a meeting. We, as a team, understand the importance of optimizing our meeting practices to make them truly effective. Here are some key strategies our engineers employ to ensure better meetings:
Establishing a Personal Connection:
When commencing a meeting, it's beneficial to take a few minutes to engage in casual conversation and connect with team members on a personal level before diving into work-related matters. This simple step helps foster a more comfortable and cohesive atmosphere within the team, allowing everyone to better understand who they are working with and promoting a positive team dynamic.
Clearly Defined Purpose and Agenda:
A successful meeting begins with a clear purpose and a well-defined agenda. Before starting the meeting, it's essential to communicate the specific objectives and desired outcomes to all participants. By doing so, everyone is on the same page, and the discussion can stay focused and relevant to the meeting's goals.
Guiding Towards Progress:
Meetings should be seen as a means to steer the team towards progress and not just a routine gathering. Before scheduling a meeting, ask yourself if there is a genuine need for it at that moment. If your team is making steady progress and doesn't require immediate guidance or input, let them continue their work uninterrupted. Reserve meetings for situations where collaboration, problem-solving, or decision-making genuinely require the collective input of the team.
By adhering to these principles, our engineers have significantly enhanced the effectiveness of their meetings. They have found that adopting a purposeful and mindful approach to conducting meetings leads to increased productivity and greater satisfaction among team members.
One big tip for managing remote teams…
As a leader, your actions and behaviors set the tone for your team. It's essential to demonstrate the values and practices you expect from your team members. Leading by example can significantly influence their behavior, work ethic, and overall performance. In this section, we'll explore the significance of leading by example and highlight some key areas where you can demonstrate this guiding principle.
Key Areas to Lead by Example:
- Ask questions in the manner you want your team to adopt.
- Encourage open and respectful communication.
- Be an active listener and show genuine interest in their ideas and concerns.
- Regularly check in with your team to assess progress.
- Set clear milestones and celebrate achievements.
- Offer support and guidance to overcome challenges.
- Turn your camera on during virtual meetings to foster engagement.
- Be present and actively participate in discussions.
- Use video conferencing to connect personally with team members.
Motivation and Support:
- Demonstrate enthusiasm and passion for the team's goals.
- Show empathy and understanding for their work and challenges.
- Provide encouragement and recognition for their efforts.
Leading by example is a powerful approach to effective leadership. By aligning your actions with the values and practices you wish to instill in your team, you create a positive and inspiring work environment. Your presence, communication style, and commitment to their success will motivate and empower your team to perform at their best. Embrace this guiding principle, and together, you can achieve remarkable results and foster a culture of excellence.