While the global pandemic meant many started working remotely as early as 2019, the idea of remote teams is not new. In fact, I've been working with remote teams since the 1970s and found these next 5 tips to be helpful:
Respect differences. The diversity of teams becomes more apparent in remote work situations and you need to respect them. Whether the remote team is simply in a different time zone or has a different culture entirely, learn about these differences and plan projects around them. I deal with both individuals and teams in Europe, India, China, and elsewhere, and realize I need to respect their holidays and have meetings at a reasonable time for them.
Look for similarities, not just differences. Finding similarities, rather than differences will help to build relationships. Things like hobbies, book and movie genres, and pastimes are similar around the world. Use these similarities to get to know the team better. This information will help when choosing awards, recognizing people, and making work assignments.
Have periodic face-to-face meetings if possible. There is still something about the human touch and face-to-face meeting that can help build a remote team. One remote team I was on met quarterly in person to plan the work for the next quarter and have some fun together. Getting to know each other socially helped before we returned to our desks and worked together solely by phone calls and email for the remainder of the quarter.
Communicate regularly and clearly. Regular and clear communication is important, and even more so if everyone on the team doesn't speak your language. Have weekly phone calls to touch base. When there are documents to review, be sure to give extra time when some are not native speakers or readers of the language.
Use technology to close distance gaps. Technology such as Zoom meetings and instant messaging application can help close the distance. When dealing with a factory in China where the time difference is 15 hours, I use WeChat. I've learned that nearly everyone in China has access to it and it is great for staying in touch when faster communication is required.
What tips do you have for remote team? Let us know in the comments below!
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