working with a remote team

Three Tips for Working with a Remote Team

Technology makes it possible to plug in from anywhere, but it can be hard to create a collaborative environment when working with a remote team. When the people you work with most often don’t share a physical space, effective communication and organization become key.

Here are three tips to help overcome the challenges of working with a remote team.

1.) Use Collaboration Tools:

We’re transitioning from WebEx to Zoom, and it’s working out well. Zoom has so far proved user-friendly and ideal when we want to play around with video and share our screens. Here is a write-up from the ID Solutions blog about some of Zoom’s benefits: Why Businesses are Choosing Zoom Over WebEx

We’ve also used Trello for keeping each other up-to-date on major account opportunities. It works as a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool that allows my teammate in another state to view the notes I’ve added to an account we’re working on together. I’m sure it does a lot more, but, just like with Zoom, I am still learning the ropes.

2.) Share Weekly Activity Reports:

Every Friday, I send a “highlight reel” of our Major Accounts Team’s top priorities to everybody that might be involved in the project or affected by the outcome. It’s a simple Word document that includes estimated program values, timelines and a short summary of the latest developments. This ensures everyone has the background available if they’re involved in the project now or in the future.

3.) Make Time for Small Talk:

I don’t think we fully appreciate the value of brief conversations at the coffeemaker or when a co-worker stops by your desk to say hello. Small talk gets a bad rap and I don’t often seek it out myself, especially early in the morning. But just sitting here writing this, I can remember three occasions over the past few years where a random, unplanned encounter changed the course of a project or the way we were thinking about a department initiative.

So, how do you replicate these serendipitous situations without being the weirdo who calls your remote co-workers out of the blue to ask about their hopes and dreams?

We tried monthly check-ins for our entire team but the schedules got too crazy, resulting in an average of one successful call per 10 attempts. So we scaled back to one-on-one weekly calls with our direct supervisor. These cover any issues that might otherwise go unmentioned because they aren’t urgent or directly related to a specific opportunity. Because he has a higher-level view of the company as a whole, this has helped us make connections across departments and ideas.

It also doesn’t hurt to show your co-workers that out of sight doesn’t necessarily mean out of mind. If you come across an interesting article or offering about something they enjoy – for example camping, video gaming, basket weaving – send it along. They’re sure to appreciate, might reciprocate and – before you know it – you’ve gained not just a professional pal but a new appreciation for the origins of basketry.

How do you connect with colleagues across North America and around the world?

Please weigh in with comments on working with a remote team or how you handle telecommuting.

AboutMichelle McCafferty

Michelle joined the Proforma team in 2008. As the Manager of Business Development for Major Accounts, she helps Proforma Owners win new and grow existing programs through proposal and presentation development, as well as periodic Relationship Reviews. Before joining Proforma, Michelle attended Cleveland State University where she earned a degree in Journalism and Promotional Communication.

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