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How to Collaborate with Remote Teammates

by: Tanta Noramon
How to Collaborate with Remote Teammates

Remote collaboration or communication isn’t always easy. 

Remote communication is quite different from our normal conversation. There can be distortion, delay, lack of fast feedback, lack of clarity, and a variety of other challenges. 

Sending emails, messages or setting up conference calls can also be nerve-wracking. We can feel stuck before sending it to a boss or colleague for fear of how they’ll perceive it. Once the email or message is sent, people can become anxious waiting for a reply. 

To save you from all the distractions, we have created a list of 7 ways to collaborate with teammates in a better way.

Create communication norms

Remote team members can collaborate well only if they communicate well. For this reason, they need to communicate effectively. By creating communication norms and expectations, they can collaborate in a better way. 

First, the teams need to figure out which software, app, or platform they will use to communicate. Many apps can be used. For messages and video or conference calls, the teams must set times. They must also set guidelines for the team members on when to put their message forward and expect a response.

Not all team members have to be involved in every communication or collaboration taking place. The team members with mutual understanding can come up with specific channels where only the people involved in a certain activity can communicate. Only the people concerned should have the concerned information. Not everyone should be bombarded with all the information.

Another very beneficial thing that the team members can do is come up with a companywide common language or a project-wise dictionary. All the acronyms associated with a certain project or activity can be included in the dictionary. This way, all stakeholders and team members can understand the point under discussion. Also, confusion about acronyms can also be avoided.

Set milestone or task accomplishment goals

It is a known fact that employees or team members who share the unified goal collaborate and communicate more effectively than those who don’t have a shared goal.

For this reason, it is best for team members to set unified goals for a week or a month. It is essential to mention the expected outcomes. The team members can then communicate accordingly to set their priorities, execute activities or tasks accordingly, and reach the desired goal together. This strengthens the team member’s working relationship and they collaborate in a better way to achieve the expected outcomes. 

Set weekly team meetings

A picture of teammates having remote meeting

It is quite important for the team members to specify a time for a weekly team meeting.  The team meeting should ideally take place through video. Also, it is best if the meeting takes place on the same day and time every week. A meeting agenda should be set before the meeting to make all the team members aware of the discussion points. By doing this, everyone will be aware of the talking points and no time will be wasted. 

The minute doesn’t have to be very long. It can be a 15-minute-long discussion where the team members can discuss what needs to be accomplished, how long it will take, the potential risks and hurdles, and what approach or strategy will be adopted. Having these points discussed will make sure that all the team members are on the same page. 

In the same meeting, they can discuss the upcoming tasks and activities for the next week. A weekly meeting is not mandatory, if the facilitators think that there is no need for a weekly meeting in a specific week then it can certainly be skipped.

One thing that must be taken care of is that all the team players are respectful to each other during the weekly meeting and there should be no blame game. In case of any conflict, the facilitators of the meeting can help in resolving the conflict separately.

Stress clarity in your communication

Team communication can be hectic. This is mainly because they are separated. However, the frustration and struggle will increase if the communicated targets are not clear to the team members. 

Brief messages are quick, but it’s important that they are clear to understand as well. The team leaders or managers should ensure that while communicating they make sure that the team members understand the message being conveyed without any confusion.

While giving instructions or making the team members understand something, make sure that they know the reason behind it. They must be aware of the “why” behind that specific instruction. Give the team members opportunity to ask questions and make things clear specifically those that are confusing. Getting feedback from the team is very important as it can help the team leader understand how to give instructions in a better way for better understanding.

Manage time for a friendly relationship amongst team members

Friends are better at collaborating and communicating as compared to colleagues. Establishing a friendly work relationship will allow the colleagues to collaborate and communicate in a better way professionally.

Team leaders can make time for the team members to build personal relationships through which they can develop better professional communication. A healthy or friendly work relationship amongst the team members ends up being quite beneficial for the team leaders. The team members then communicate, collaborate, and make decisions in a better way. The greater progress and productivity of the employees end up being fruitful for the organization.

It is a misconception that happy hours and virtual spaces cannot be created for employees. Make the best use of time by coming up with initiatives of social events that can be attended virtually. This freshens up the teammates’ minds and allows them to get to know each other in a better way. Many activities can involve team members such as photo contests, Halloween costume contests, thanksgiving dinner, and others. This will break the feeling of reservation between team members.

Be adaptable

For successful remote collaboration, the team leaders or managers must learn to adapt for successful remote collaboration. Everything can’t be strictly followed in remote collaboration. What is working right now may not work a month later. All teams cannot be available all the time. Each team will work according to their project activities, schedules, deadlines, and deliverables. Hence, the team leads should be open to adaptability.

Putting too much pressure on the teams will not increase productivity but it will lead to a decline in the morale of the team members.

Collaboration opportunities for team members

Collaboration doesn’t always mean that it has to be amongst two teams or two members. You can create multiple collaboration opportunities for the team members to work together. For instance, there is a task, you can assign it to only two employees. Have them work on it and produce the desired results. This will improve their team-building skills, they will be able to work together, get to know each other and then they can make decisions on their own as well. One thing that you must make sure of is that the team members must be ready to collaborate. You certainly don’t want two people collaborating on a task who didn’t want to do it. This will lead to conflicts and unwanted circumstances.

Collaboration doesn’t always be a collaboration for a specific assignment. You can create collaborative opportunities for any team-building activity or any other training you want your team to be part of. This way, the overall relationships of the employees will improve and in the future, they will be able to achieve the desired results.

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