How do we keep the team connected when working remotely?
When every employee is doing their job from a different location, keeping the team connected is crucial.
There are two distinct areas where it's important to keep everyone in the loop and able to easily communicate with each other. The first relates to successfully working on projects and reaching our goals as a team. Second is the well-being of each member of the team. Both areas are equally important and overlap each other simultaneously.
Successfully working on projects when working remotely
As a team of 11 professionals, that are each responsible for different tasks and have different skills, it can be easy to lose track of who is doing what and when; however, with few digital tools up our sleeves, I think we manage this obstacle quite well.
Tools to help us work remotely:
Slack: our main form of communication with each other, and although it is an instant messaging app, we value each other's time and way of working and not expecting instant replies from peers. We can use different predefined statuses (and can add our own custom ones), so if we are focusing or away from a computer for a bit, others know. Slack is also a place for our daily virtual stand-ups. Having it at 2 pm instead of morning/late afternoon allows for a bit more flexibility in terms of start and finishing times, which also has a positive effect on productivity and work-life balance, as different team members are the most productive at different times of the day.
Click Up and Trello, work management apps to organise pretty much anything. Transparency is important when it comes to a group of people working together. Having a clear way of communicating past, present and future tasks minimises the probability of something slipping.
The Forecast app helps us allocate workload to people and track whether anyone has too much or too little on their plates throughout the week. This also allows us to ensure everyone knows what they are working on without micromanaging.
Loom is a video messaging tool to record videos or screencasts that can be shared easily. Sometimes it is easier to show than to try and explain the issue in writing. A quick Loom can save time that would otherwise be spent on meetings. More so, it has been a valuable tool for communication with clients too. For example, for creating tutorials ready for handover.
The well-being of the team
In a typical office-based work environment, relations between employees happen more or less on their own. Chit-chats while grabbing a cup of tea or when a funny situation arises are natural and are harder to recreate while working remotely. They are not impossible, though. With some good ideas, the will of everyone involved, and a few more digital tools, it is possible to create and maintain good relationships and ensure the well-being of everyone in the team.
The most important is healthy company culture. Without this as a fundamental, no fun activities or ‘team-building’ events will make much difference. Creating opportunities for everyone to be able to voice their opinions and feelings freely and, as mentioned previously, transparency is just one of the building blocks of that healthy company culture.
An online platform, Officevibe has been a great tool for managers and team members to ensure the company operates fairly for everyone to grow and flourish to their best selves. Good culture is also a culture of recognition, so the ability to send a ‘good vibe’, with a little gratitude note, to our peers, further helps us tighten our relations with each other by making someone's day with a bit of positivity and appreciation.
We are all human beings and sometimes need a little break from changing the internet to a better place. Twice yearly, we all get together in person for a three-day retreat, where we connect offline, do fun activities as a team, learn something new in multiple workshops, celebrate our successes, and talk about goals for the future. As a fully-remote team, those meetups are cherished by everyone, and we always have a good time together.
More so, every Friday, we pause whatever we are doing and play an online game for half an hour while we talk about everything but work.
In addition to all that, we have a few Slack channels as a space for any non-work related topics.
Keeping the team connected when working remotely can be a challenging task, but with the right tools and proper communication, remote work can be rewarding, fun, inclusive, community-building and productive. A strong team ethic and company culture ensure the path towards reaching both the company’s and our client's goals has strong and stable foundations for great ideas to flourish and succeed.