Keywords: remote working, remote teams, global teams, globally distributed teams, virtual teams, COVID-19
According to a recent study conducted by GetApp, remote work has nearly quadrupled in the last decade. Out of everyone who took the survey, 36% of the respondents said that they work remotely at least once a week. The number may not seem huge at first, but the U.S Census bureau recorded the same to be 9.5% in 2010. Which implies that there has been a four fold jump in the last one decade itself.
Now coming to the current scenario, if you have been following the news then you would know that a lot of huge corporations like Google, Facebook, TCS, Cognizant are planning to do away with their office spaces, and allow most of the employees to work remotely.
Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter has been heavily endorsing the concept of remote working, and announced that its employees can work from home permanently even when the pandemic is over.
We keep hearing the phrase that, "Remote (working) is the future". Well remote working isn't the future anymore, it's the present. The future has been advanced to present due to Covid-19.
If you are a manager at any of the Tech companies, then you are most likely going to experience a strategic shift in how employees work in the near future. As more companies rethink the possibility of working remotely, and realize the benefits of work in a distributed manner your responsibilities would also shape based on that. To navigate that, we have compiled a list of five effective practices that we ourselves follow while managing our team globally.
1. Enhance your Communication
An aspect that's often overlooked and not thought enough is communication. While in office, you can drop by anyone's desk and ask any number of questions to get it resolved quickly. But while working remotely, you may not have everyone available at the same time, and if something has to be done urgently, you have to wait until that person is back. This can be frustrating on many occasions, but rather than treating it as a hindrance, you can treat it as a strength by implementing asynchronous communication between the teams.
We took a leaf out of Buffer's playbook to learn more about how asynchronous communication works. They define asynchronous communication as a simple concept which means that, "work doesn’t happen at the same time for everyone."
So even if that particular piece of work is urgent for you, it may not be urgent for someone else. Or they may not be able to tend to it, as soon as you like them to.
People might be working out of different time zones, or busy with something else. So rather than expecting them all to be online at the same time, you should focus on defining broader goals for the week to keep everyone in the loop, so that everyone takes responsibility and does their part. Ultimately, you want to measure an employee's performance by what they did, and not when they did it.
2. Build your productivity
Next to communication, productivity is something that you should be thinking about. As mentioned before, work doesn't happen at the same time for everyone. Or not everyone can be productive at the same time.
Conducting daily or weekly online meetings is a good way to stay in sync and understand what everyone is doing. Many companies follow the concept of Scrum, which comprises of asking three questions by every team member:
- What did you accomplish last week?
- What do you plan on working next week?
- Are you facing any problems in terms of work?
To boost your team's morale and keep everyone at their creative high, you can also play quizzes directly within Slack. We love this game called Trivia for Slack which allows you to start a quiz in 2 mins flat.
3. Using the right tools
Communication tools are as important as the communication itself. Choosing the right tools can help you stay focused and productive at the same time.
We frequently use:
- Trello - To organize all our tasks in one place.
- Slack - For instant messaging and communication.
- Canva - For our designing and creative needs.
- Zoom - For all our video calls.
- Google drive - For storing all the information at one place.
You can choose to work with the current communication stack, or build one of your own.
4. Centralize all your resources
Excel sheets can be messy. Appropriately naming and numbering them is an underrated skill.
Although you might be following it already, it is a good idea to have a central database of all your resources segregated by divisions like Sales, Marketing, Tech etc. that would help you stay organized and would allow you to find a document when you need them the most.
This will also help you boost collaboration between your teams.
5. Dedicated fun time
Just like you would go for a short break or eat lunch together if you were in office, it is important to follow the same practice to foster the same level of communication while working from home. This would ensure that you feel united as a team and do not miss on your daily dose of watercooler conversations.
You can expand the concept to organize virtual parties and events wherein you can host quiz sessions, beer friday's, or talk about anything interesting that's happening in your life. This would enhance team bonding and ensure that no team member is left out.
We personally follow all these activities on a regular basis, and our team has never been happier.
What do you do differently in your office so your team isn't bored? Tell us about it in the comments.