December 2019 changed the game altogether literally for the whole entire world. Without realizing how big of an impact it would have on us, our lives moved on just as normal. Until it struck most countries that we realized how serious of a situation it could be.
True enough, it really was. What started off as a weekly arrangement turned into a monthly one and now after getting really accustomed to the new norm, some organizations have even opted for a full-time work from home perhaps for the next few years. Some even have it as their long-term plan, which literally means team members will be in a remote work place until one retires.
A year has passed that most organizations announced the work from home policy. Indeed, a year that flew by very swiftly. With the situation in place, not much were up to us, hence many changes had to be done where one just had to adapt to survive the situation. Mistakes were made along the way, but true what they say, learn from your mistakes as it is the best tool for learning.
Truth be told, even for me, it was awkward at first to be working from home as it would have been nice if it was done subtly for me to adapt to the new norm. However, that was not what actually happened. Abruptly, I just had to move my things that I comfortably had in the office to my home. Little did I know, it wasn’t just the change of physical place that I needed the adjustment to, it was basically the whole working experience, routine, arrangements, and so many more that I learned along the way.
Bit by bit I got used to it, and am now loving every part of it, although just between you and me, there are times when I actually do miss going into the office, and not having to worry about anyone getting to close to you not adhering to the social distancing, or just being able to see each other’s faces from time to time at the pantry, those random moments, don’t you?
But with not much choice in hand, I just moved along with the practise, set up a comfortable enough work place at home in ensuring the same quality of work being achieved. So why not, let’s just go through what I have learned throughout my journey of ensuring effectiveness is achieved working remotely with my teammates, and see if you can relate to it.
Here are some tips on how you could be working more effectively with remote teams.
1. Communicate Regularly
Communication is key. So many times, I have repeated this, because indeed it is extremely true. In many different scenarios, different aspects in life, communication is the way to go. Well, same goes for this situation. With everyone being far apart from each other, the only way we could know what one is up to, be in a good or bad situation is by communicating. In my team where although we have our own portfolio, but still work closely with each other, the way to go is definitely by setting up meetings every week, and for us, it would be every Tuesday morning from 9.30 till 10.30am.
During that time, we would be updating each other on our tasks, and on any obstacle that we face if any, as quite a number of times, when we share, there would be another team member that has actually gone through the same situation and would relay on how he/she went through it, what to do and what to avoid, and the outcome, which indeed would be very helpful. Take it from me, by having establishing a remote work routine as a team, it indirectly pulls everyone towards the same direction which is really crucial in this point in time.
2. Prioritize Face to Face Interaction
At the same time that we have these weekly meetings, we would prefer it to be a face-to-face interaction as it makes us feel very much closer to one another and not have that big of a gap although being physically apart. Believe me, as compared to just audio meeting, the outcome would be very much different when it’s done by video conferences.
You will be able to see how team members would be much more opened, alert and connected during the session which is an amazing method to breach the gap as it already is. As there are many tools that can be used for face-to-face interaction such as Skype, Teams, Zoom and many more, it is entirely up to you on which you are most comfortable with.
3. Check-In Frequently and Be Proactive
As being mentioned above for our weekly meetings, in between we still do communicate with each other via teams and skype. The reason being is that if we were to wait for just the once a week communication, issues would arise and when it accumulates.
Hence for me personally when a task is being accumulated, it just interrupts the flow of my work as at the back of my mind I would still be thinking about it and when it can be resolved. So, the easy way would definitely just to buzz a team member on the matter and get it resolved as soon as possible, which would clear the path for other tasks to come in.
At the same time, when communication is being done frequently, it gives a clear impression and picture towards other team members on which task we are currently working on, and what is already being resolved and still pending.
4. Encourage Casual Communication
Indeed, I have asked around, and from my personal opinion, working from home makes one work more, don’t you think? Somehow, we don’t have the opportunity to get up and pack our things to say “See you tomorrow, as I’ve got to leave now to avoid traffic to pick up my daughter” because literally, my daughter is just right here in front of my eyes.
Or those random bumps at the pantry of just having a normal conversation of ‘what’s for lunch’ or ‘where to go’, or ‘how was your Zumba class’ kind of meets is just really missed. Little do we realize, those small meets are among the things that freshen us up while taking a break from the urgent tasks waiting behind the screen. Due to COVID19, true so many things have changed, but it does not mean this entirely has to stop.
With so much going on in our lives, it is truly acceptable and okay to have a break in between, or even a start of a conversation about just random things, not related to work, as it boosts the confidence and trust between one another, which subtly will make not just the personal connection closer but also the professional relation as one is already comfortable and at ease talking the other.
5. Set Clear Goals Involving the Whole Team
Together we stand, divided we fall. Working from home is a new experience altogether for many. Therefore, it is extremely crucial to ensure each individual understands how big of an impact their separate tasks is that makes up the whole team’s success.
By not leaving any team member out, by laying out clear goals for each separate talent as well as collectively and the outcome of it as a whole would be a great motivation driving each team member towards it. For example, as an accounting expert, we would all be moving towards year end closing whereby the deadline for the team goals have already been set an earlier stage.
At the back of our minds, we know as much as we are doing separate work, we are all moving simultaneously in achieving one similar goal. Once it is achieved, it gives such an amazing feeling to know that we managed to pull through as one, and of course, is never wrong to have a team gathering as a celebration and pats on our backs that we made it! (adhering to the SOPs of course)
At the end of the day, where there’s a will, there’s a way. With information just at the tip of our fingers, there would be so many ways to obtain information, and in this case, effectively obtaining it as a whole. If I and many others managed to pull through working remotely as a team, so can you, we believe in you 😉