Whether you’re working from home, commuting to an offsite office or plugging in from a Starbucks, remote collaboration will always present a few challenges. The following tips can help ensure that you stay connected to your team while working remotely.
1. Be there (even when you don’t have to be)
When working remotely, it is often tempting to skip those meetings where you are an optional attendee. Who would notice you’re gone anyways, right? Wrong – you’ll notice. And over time, it will make you feel disconnected from your team. So, show up – even when you don’t have to.
2. Say cheese
Putting your face in front of your team and theirs in front of you will help you feel connected. A lot of communication comes from body language and facial expressions. So, to get the most out of your interactions, put up that camera and start a video conference whenever possible. The camera not only helps you feel like you are part of the team, but also cuts down on the miscommunication and frustrations that come from conference calling.
3. Instant Message
Have a working chat system that is universally adopted in your office. Real-time communication does wonders for remote collaboration. Let’s face it – we don’t always want to hop on a call, but we do often need quick answers. Instant messaging can be the next best thing to dropping by the office or cubicle next door.
4. Share your screen
Ever tried to explain a computer problem to someone over the phone? As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. That is especially true with a distributed workforce. Utilizing tools like join.me can save you and your team time, energy and frustration.
5. Dress like it matters
Everyone knows that the best benefit of working from home is working in your pajamas. Still, to create a productive space for yourself, consider putting on those pants, brushing your hair and maybe even donning a pair of shoes. These simple physical changes can put you in the right mental space to be productive. Even if your remote office isn’t your home, it can sometimes be tempting to be a bit more lax at a remote office. “Dressing for success” can have a big impact on the way you approach your work.
6. Be Transparent
Remote teams are more common than ever, but communication is still a challenge. Despite phones, emails, chat screens, shared calendars and IMs, being clear about your expectations and your timelines can still fall through the cracks. Remember to always let folks know your availability or what you’re working on, especially if they’re expecting to receive work product from you. Be proactive about reaching out and choose the right communication tool with which to achieve your goal.
7. Gossip around the water cooler
When collaborating remotely, it is tempting to hop on calls, stick to an agenda and get the tasks at hand done. But it is important to remember that building relationships with your coworkers contributes to a productive team. So, take your time and shoot the breeze.
8. Be Understanding
Did your computer just crash? Did three employees just rush your desk with questions? That is not the ideal time to receive a call from one of your remote teammates. And sometimes when those calls come in at the inopportune moment it is tempting to get upset. But be understanding – they can’t see your situation, and if they could, they probably wouldn’t have called at that moment. Make sure you keep this in mind to keep your attitude in perspective.
9. Have working sessions
When working remotely, it is easy to divide up tasks, work on them separately then complete them into a whole. However, working calls and brainstorming sessions don’t only improve the sense of team, but also contribute to better ideas. These meetings increase productivity, and also make you feel like you're right back in the office working alongside people instead of several time zones or oceans away.