Effective teams and collaboration is needed for any and all teams. It’s just more challenging for ones that are distributed or remote. This is because ties are generally weaker within a remote team, since there are fewer opportunities to bond.
If you don’t focus on improving the collaboration and communication in your virtual workplace, it create a weaker team, straining your company from its potential.
To help you foster a successful and effective virtual workplace, we’ve created 10 rules you should use to improve your remote collaboration efforts:
- Rule 1: Don’t use the “M” word or “C” word. If you’re working on a remote team, don’t use the word “meeting” or “conference” to describe a conversation with your coworker. Those words sound stuffy and don’t carry a positive vibe. Use terms that sound less official and more casual like “let’s all talk later.”
- Rule 2: Stay signed on. When you’re not physically with your coworkers all day, it’s courteous to sign on to your chat clients when you start working and log off when you’re done. Working while not being available to chat makes your coworkers think you’re not at your computer or you took the day off. Don’t do it.
- Rule 3: Bring headphones. One of the great liberties of telecommuting is that you can work from anywhere. However, places are loud, and it can be really hard to hear you if you have video conversations for work. Stop yelling at your computer during video chats and bring headphones that have an attached microphone (I personally suggest noise-cancelling headphones). Always keep them with you when you work. You’ll probably spare your coworker’s ears, too.
- Rule 4: Be mindful of timezones. If you want to talk to your teammate in the middle of the afternoon, make sure that it’s an appropriate timezone for him or her. Don’t make your teammates stay up past a decent hour to talk about work. Let them sleep. Choose a more convenient hour when everyone is awake.
- Rule 5: Don’t skimp on tools. Don’t want to pay for a robust chat client, project management tool, and a video collaboration tool? Then you might as well rent an office space where you won’t need no to be able to collaborate with team. Invest in remote collaboration tools for the sake of your business and team. After all, you’re not paying rent on an office space.
- Rule 6: Integrate some face time for the presence factor. Ok, ok, this one might seem a bit self-serving, but it has a purpose. I promise! It’s important to feel as connected as possible to increase the collaborative nature of your team. Having face time lets you see nonverbal communication you don’t get through chat like facial expressions or tone.
- Rule 7: Encourage participation. It’s natural to have some team members more vocal than others. Make sure they’re not the only team members speaking up. Ask the quieter ones if they have anything to add to the conversation to encourage them to share their thoughts.
- Rule 8: Foster personal interactions. If your team always feels like a bunch of strangers, then they will always treat each other like a bunch of strangers. Encourage causal and personal interactions between team members. Collaboration becomes easier when coworkers know each other well.
- Rule 9: Praise and acknowledge your team visibly. Who wants to work hard when their hard work is never acknowledged? Not many. Remote teams have limited communication already, making opportunities to praise and thank others for doing a good job. Boost team morale and make your team feel good by publicly and visibly praising your team mates.
- Rule 10: Don’t let people talk over each other. When you’re using technology as your communication medium, there can sometimes be delays or lag time. So that you don’t seem like you’re interrupting, wait a few seconds after someone else speaks before you talk.