How Virtual Collaboration Works Better 7 Tips for Organizing Remote Teams
The organization of remote teams is demanding: the employees are harder to grasp than in a local team. In addition, all team members must be able to rely more on agreements. Therefore, increased attention is paid to the organization of a remote team.
Company about the topic
Remote work has great potential, but coordinating teams and employees can prove difficult.
Working in a remote team presents all team members and management with (sometimes new) challenges. Local teams are currently losing significant relevance, as there are several reasons to rely on remote teams in the home office. But the fact that remote teams are gaining in importance is not exclusively due to the current corona pandemic-it has only accelerated the trend significantly.
Remote work is a win-win situation
Many companies, especially California tech companies, have been relying on remote teams for years for cost reasons: remote work saves costs for office infrastructure and business trips and allows the seamless integration of employees who live far away. It redeems former local employees from the daily rush hour and facilitates the organization of private life.
As a result, this ensures a better work-life balance for all participants. This allows a company to benefit significantly – a win-win situation. However, it is important to keep an eye on the internal organization. Because remote teams often present management and employees with completely new challenges.
Technology and organization as key points
The organization of Remote Teams can have its pitfalls. Due to the lack of spatial separation between private and working life, for example, the positive effect can quickly turn into the opposite if the supervisor reports at the most impossible times of the day or if remote tools do not function properly. Managers, team leaders and employees in remote teams are therefore regularly confronted with a whole range of problems:
- Inadequate communication channels
- Poor scheduling and inadequate adherence to deadlines
- Fragmentation of working time and time pressure
- Lack of respect for breaks, time-outs and holidays
- Unclear distribution of responsibilities
1. Ensure a solid hardware and software base
All these problems can be tackled, many of them already through the definition of remote tools. After all, these form the fulcrum of the entire remote team. This should also work as smoothly as possible. For example, if employees work with their own computers, it is important to find a tool that works equally well for all employees and as little invasive as possible.
Anyone who forces the employee on his private computer to certain operating systems or software solutions has already lost – in such a case, it is better to provide work computers equipped with the necessary tools. This also has the advantage that operational reliability is guaranteed by the company’s IT and that all employees can access the same hardware and software without having to invest themselves.
2. Delegating responsibilities promotes collaboration
In the actual organization of the remote team, it is important to divide teams as sensibly as possible into small working groups with clearly defined responsibilities and a responsible group leader. On the one hand, this ensures clear responsibilities, on the other hand, the assigned group leader is always the contact person and, on the other hand, ensures that the working group works as effectively as possible.
It is important that the groups are put together not only according to qualifications, but also according to the quality of the cooperation: employees who get along well are more productive than those who have not yet been able to get to know each other. In addition, the additional hierarchy level ensures a flattening of the hierarchy: this lowers the hurdle of communicating problems that arise and promotes collaboration, especially among employees who are new or who come in from outside.
3. Observe cultural peculiarities
Those who have to lead a scattered remote team often encounter different cultural phenomena. In addition to the time difference that occurs with global teams, these are, for example, different attitudes regarding the importance of family or religious holidays. These can already be different between German federal states. Anyone who has ever tried to have a Rhinelander work on Rose Monday as a North German knows the problem.
Team leaders should therefore keep such peculiarities in mind and discuss with the relevant employee in good time his planning for “his” holiday and arrange for replacement. By the way, the same applies to holiday periods, weekends, after work and other free days, which are often forgotten “from above”. The employee in question needs these time-outs in order to be able to deliver optimally.
4. Planning and writing down
Remote teams working with employees from remote regions face another problem: even if the communication language is English, it is very likely that only a few team members are native speakers. This makes it all the more important to log online meetings, then write them down and pass them on to the employees involved. The recording function of the conference on software and misunderstandings can be avoided in this way.
5. Clearly limit video meetings
Even normal, local team meetings can quickly get out of hand with poor scheduling or a lack of content agenda. This happens even faster at video meetings in remote teams, especially since numerous additional disruptive factors such as technical problems can be added here.
When planning a meeting, team leaders should think carefully about which employees they really need for a meeting – and let everyone else do their work in peace. A tight time and content limitation in conjunction with the writing ensures very efficient exchange.
6. Direct talks promote cohesion
Of course, team conferences do not replace the private-business exchange of ideas between employees and employees. Therefore, remote exchange between employees should be encouraged: a fast video call between two employees does not only allow the maximum possible personal contact between the remote team members. It also helps with agreements that can be misunderstood or time-consuming via email or chat.
At the same time, team and group leaders should of course also be available as contact persons and should be available wherever possible for personal discussions if there is a need. In this way, not only the team spirit is strengthened, but also efficient cooperation is promoted.
7. Promote a culture of honesty
Of course, all the organizational aids mentioned in this article only work smoothly if a culture of honesty and trust is promoted: supervisors and employees should be able to communicate as honestly as possible about the accessibility of goals, future plans, problems with projects or difficulties with cooperation.
This requires a certain level of empathy, especially since remote teams with personal contact during work breaks or after work are lacking an important soft team-building aspect. That’s why the goal of organizing a remote team must always be that employees feel comfortable and progress can communicate just like problems in a timely and unadorned manner. This is the only way to work optimally in remote teams.