For remote teams, collaboration and communication can be a challenge. You can’t simply walk over to someones desk to ask a question, or discuss issues when you bump into each other in the hallway. This makes it more difficult to know what your colleagues are working on and what their struggles are. It can also be harder to bond with each other, since remote contact typically is more work-related and leaves less room for chit chat.
However it is not impossible to stay in the loop and feel as one team. Here are some ways to stay connected as a remote team:
- Talk about stuff that isn’t work-related. Informal communication happens in an office environment all the time. Sitting next to each other, standing at the coffee machine together and eating lunch together; you are bound to get to know your colleagues on a more personal level. For remote teams that’s not always the case, so you have to actively create opportunities to bond with each other. Not only does it make your work a lot more fun, studies have shown informal contact increases creativity and engagement in teams. So make sure to give your colleagues a call sometimes purely to build your relationship. Ask them how their weekend was, if they saw this movie that you saw, or send them a link to a blog post or funny cartoon. A great way to do this is by setting up a virtual ‘water cooler’ (facebook group, chat room, forum, etc.) for sharing non-work-related stuff.
- Keep communication going and have daily contact. Not speaking to each other for a week once is fine, but if it happens over and over again it can be very isolating. You might find that you work together with only a few colleagues and barely speak to others in the team. Building a strong team means staying connected to everyone, not just the people that work on the same projects as you. So make sure to have as many positive interactions as you can and make yourself visible in the team. Even something small like a goodmorning message to everyone at the start of your day can have a big effect.
- Know what keeps your colleagues busy. You can’t really work together and help each other if you don’t know what the rest is working on. Usually this is shared in a weekly meeting or conference call, but it can be a lot of information to process and remember. Make it more personal with a weekly what’s up one-on-one talk. This is done preferably real time over the phone, but a chat will work fine too since it still feels like having a natural and personal conversation.
- Share and celebrate successes. In a remote team it can sometimes feel as if you’re anonymous and achievements go unnoticed by colleagues that work in different offices. Sharing success is proven to spread positivity and drive teams forward. Make it a fun tradition to celebrate succes, for instance by sharing a bottle of wine with the team over a video call on a friday afternoon.
Connecting with your colleagues makes your work easier and more fun, so why wait?