When teams aren’t working together in the same physical location, it can be harder to replicate the sense of camaraderie that comes more naturally when people share a space. This is also a challenge for teams who were used to working in an office and have newly transitioned to remote work.
The good news is that it’s absolutely possible for remote teams to have connections that are just as strong as in person teams, it just takes a bit of deliberate effort.
Replicate the in-person experience.
What a physical location provides is the opportunity for team members to connect with each other in more ways than just work. People gather in the break room and chat about their weekends or go out for lunch together. They can pop by a colleagues’ desk for a quick chat, whether that’s about work or if it’s purely casual.
These organic connections don’t happen as easily when workers are remote, simply because there are less opportunities for causal connections. Most of the time when a remote team comes together it’s for a conference call or virtual meeting, where the point is to get work done, not socialize.
To counteract this nature of work-only connections, intentionally create opportunities for people to socialize. Allow extra time before or after a virtual meeting for people to talk. Set up a virtual happy hour or a virtual lunch hour where anyone can drop in and out just as they would if the event were in person. Encourage team members to reach out to each other for a quick non work-related chat once per week.
In person or remote, teams are still made up of people working independently much of the time. However, without the ability to simply walk over and ask a colleague something, people are more likely to attempt to do something on their own.
One way to encourage collaboration is to speak to your team and highlight how working together can help them more effectively and easily meet both goals and deadlines. Another way is to ensure that all lines of communication are always open and people how to easily contact each other.
Provide the right tools.
It’s important to provide remote teams with the tools they need to both get their work done and be able to easily work together while doing it. Each team and each project is different, so there’s no one size fits all solution. The best way to be sure that your team has what they need is to ask them for their feedback.
Technology has made it easier for people to collaborate, but sometimes it’s relied upon too heavily. The power of an actual conversation, whether by phone or by video chat, should not be underestimated. Many times colleagues simply email each other or chat via messenger rather than simply picking up the phone. Tech solutions encourage fully digital communication, so encourage teams to communicate by talking in addition to texting.
At the end of the day, what really matters is creating these opportunities for connection. The more opportunities to connect, the quicker your remote team will become a strong, cohesive working unit.