Unlike office-based working where collaboration develops organically, remote work requires an explicit conversation on how to work together. You’ll be sharing a new digital space together and using new tools to communicate – without syncing on how the join them all together, information will quickly get lost and people make feel disconnected.
So where do you start? While there is no single “correct” way for distributed teams to collaborate, there are a few best practices which make the whole thing easier. Having worked remotely since our company’s inception, here at Memory we’ve boiled these down to the following four basic rules of remote collaboration.
First up, you need to agree basic protocols to keep everyone on the same page. This essentially means establishing processes for communication, feedback and documentation. These are the main rules of engagement your team should establish first:
Aside from keeping remote work visible, these rules of engagement help to set expectations around response times and schedules. You all need to realize that you won’t always be immediately available to each other — and no one is constantly entitled to another’s time.
Intelligent cloud-based tools form the backbone of remote collaboration, but you need to pick them wisely. Remote teams can tend towards software sprawl in their efforts to keep work visible. This can quickly get expensive, where you pay for rich feature sets you don’t need. It can also get disruptive, introducing new admin and inefficiencies into your team’s workload.
🚨 Remember: every new piece of software is a potential distraction.
While your company will want to investigate a few tools relevant to your niche, make sure they aren’t duplicates of these fundamental remote collaboration tools:
Without the visual cues and fluidity that comes with working in the same room, your team’s communication needs to become highly descriptive, structured and explicit. It sounds intense – and it is! – but this clarity can actually make you all stronger, more considerate communicators.
Here are a few remote communication best practices you’ll want to follow:
As a remote worker you can feel like a resource. The communication best practice detailed above can make conversations dry and transactional, with little room for discussion beyond work. But empathy and meaningful interaction are essential to any effective team. As such, your team needs to make an ongoing effort to stay connected and human.
That means creating spaces for casual conversation and self-expression. Host weekly team meetings and create open daily virtual fruit breaks, allowing people to drop in when it suits them. Create dedicated Slack channels and Basecamp pages for socializing and sharing ideas. Follow these up with company-wide social events where everyone can unwind together – think cross-team competitions, awards ceremonies and all-important meetups.