Working with remote teams is a reality for many of today’s modern businesses. Impeccable organization, collaborative tools, and strong communication are the keys to keeping your projects on track. Use these best practices for collaborating with your long-distance colleagues:
Regularly communicate your organization’s vision and goals with every member of your team. When distant employees understand the overarching business goals, it helps to motivate them, keep their work on track, and create a sense of shared purpose.
Set clear ground rules with every member of the team by deciding what times each person should be available to contact. If colleagues are in different time zones, make sure everyone knows what time is acceptable to call and what is not.
Create a communications routine. Check in one-on-one and as a team each week or as often as needed. A regular routine helps keep everyone in the loop and address issues and questions in a timely fashion.
Foster camaraderie. Don’t always limit the conversation to work-related topics, but ask your colleagues about their interests and activities outside the office. Before or after each meeting, let everyone chat about what’s going on in their lives. If your team members are able to bond with each other on a deeper level, it could improve their group performance.
Take advantage of technology. Teleconferencing and screen-sharing technology are especially helpful in connecting with colleagues across distances. Screen sharing, as well as tools like Google Docs, allow for real-time, virtual collaboration.
Set project milestones and follow-up. Make sure your colleagues know what you expect from them, and let them know if they are meeting or falling behind your expectations.
Regularly solicit feedback. Ask your colleagues for feedback on the way you collaborate. Are you communicating too much or too little, or should you use voice conferencing more often than email? Make adjustments as needed to help improve collaboration.
If your organization is working with long-distance colleagues for the first time, expect to experience a learning curve. These work relationships are not traditional, but every industry needs to adapt as telecommuting becomes increasingly commonplace.