Remote teams are definitely the future of our workplaces but if you work with remote employees and co-located employees at the same time, coordination and teamwork can get tricky.
In this post, we’ll show you 5 golden rules to live by if you work in an office but have remote team members.
Let’s take a look!
When you work in an office, socializing comes easy.
You catch up with your team members off the record all the time. From the water cooler chit-chat to grabbing drinks after work.
But when you have remote team members, it can feel like you never get to see them because… Well, you don’t really see them around the office. It takes effort to socialize.
All of this can cause the affinity distance: a divide between the people who work in the office and the people who work remotely.
And when teams aren’t working as they should be, the performance suffers. You can find your projects stunted by team members who refuse to cooperate because they don’t trust each other.
Feeling like the remote workers have it easy is just one of the reasons behind communications breakdowns that cause one third of projects to fail.
In order to bring their remote and office team members closer together, companies like Toggl frequently organize company get-togethers and meet-ups.
Other companies like Zapier and Buffer which have gone 100% remote have their virtual versions of water coolers. They organize meetings specifically for their team members to socialize and talk about what’s going on in their lives.
This makes it much easier for co-located and remote teammates to develop trust in one another.
And if your team members trust one another (regardless of their distance), it’ll significantly boost the performance of your projects.
Rule #2: Use Tools for Co-Located and Remote Teamwork
A good tool goes a long way.
This is especially true if you work in a company that mixes and matches co-located employees with remote ones.
Since you can’t knock on the remote teammate’s door and ask them to get you the information you need, you should have an appropriate tool to do it through.
This way, asynchronous communication which means the people you need to communicate with aren’t immediately present isn’t hard. You can simply leave a message for the remote teammate and they’ll get back to you ASAP.
How to Communicate in Remote Teams
Your remote and co-located teams need three features to collaborate effectively:
- Team messaging
- Collaboration and feedback features
- Task and project management
It’s best to have a fully-formed virtual workspace.
At Vabotu, our virtual workspaces allow both co-located and remote team members to seamlessly work together.
All of your teams will have access to:
- Chats: one-on-one, private and public groups
- Direct file and comment integration for real-time feedback
- Tasks visible from within the virtual workspace
To put it simply: with Vabotu, your team will be able to manage everything in one place.
Jenny can message Tim, attach a project file with comments, and then see the next tasks she needs to get done. Without switching tabs or having to remember where the right notes are.
If you have remote teams, things can get confusing really fast – especially if you’re managing multiple projects at once.
Your remote team members could feel like they’re not getting enough information just because they’re away from the office.
After all, it’s much simpler to just drop by and tell an employee what they need to know, rather than writing a long email.
All of this can lead to lack of transparency and insight which impairs the productivity of your teams.
How to Encourage Transparency
Using a project management app is a great solution for making sure all of your teams are on the same page.
However, you should look for a visual task and project management tool. This way, team members aren’t inundated with disorganized data.
Instead, they can clearly see:
- The progress of the project
- The tasks they’ve been assigned
- Their teammates’ feedback
With Vabotu, you get a central hub of operations for both project management and project collaboration. We are the first to combine messaging, collaboration and design feedback in the same simple to use platform.
The project management tool uses all the principles of visual management.
You can create boards with tasks and subtasks, assign them to relevant team members, all of whom can leave comments and mention teammates with a simple @ function.
There’s no reason to write emails or open separate apps.
If teams want to discuss something, they’re only one click away from a virtual workspace with integrated messaging.
Rule #4: Knowledge Management Makes or Breaks Teamwork
According to Xenit, employees spend 19.8% of business time searching for information they need to effectively do their jobs.
Now add a combination of co-located and remote workers and you can actually see that number rise due to asynchronous communication and scattered resources.
And if you’re not actively managing knowledge at your company, you could be suffering losses as much as $25 million every year.
How to Manage Knowledge
Think about a typical knowledge sharing situation at a company: Jenny’s got the files on the client, Mary has feedback notes written down in an app on her phone, and the team lead is sending emails back and forth trying to find last week’s updates. Finally, the devs who should be creating the application don’t have all the resources from design they need.
It’s a mess.
Choosing a tool that has a centralized hub of operations, along with file storage, is a much better option.
If you’re using Vabotu’s virtual workspace, you can automatically upload files to the media hub.
All of your team members can see it, and they won’t just be able to download it. They’ll be able to leave their feedback. Other team members will be automatically notified of it, and they can keep the conversation going.
Forget about misunderstandings. You can actually apply notes to the relevant documents.
And if you’re still trying to make marketing and development work together, Vabotu’s virtual workspaces allow everyone to make their comments in real time and agree on what they want to do next.
There’s no reason for project extensions when everyone has all the resources they need to do their best work.
When you have the right people, you want to bring them as close as possible. And just because you’re working with both co-located and remote teams doesn’t mean your company culture has to suffer.
Or, better yet: remote work is no excuse not to create a company culture that reinforces your values and encourages teamwork.
Some of the most successful companies thrive on remote and co-located work exactly because they’ve worked hard to bring their values into every working hour.
How to Create a Great Company Culture
The first step on your way to creating a company culture that fulfills your goals and your people is discussing it with your teammates.
What do they want to be prioritized? Is it flexibility, is it simplified communication, or is it more time for getting together and hanging out in the physical world?
Then, you should create an implementation strategy.
Make a schedule of events, plan out meetings, and create guidelines for collaboration that will make sure both your remote and your co-located team members know exactly how to behave and share information.
And when it comes to acting out on your company culture, there’s nothing like getting the right tool to support the right people.