In today’s world of business, flexible working has allowed many professionals to perform their duties away from the main office. The digitalisation of the modern work environment means that team members can liaise across different locations and time zones, facilitating coordination and delivering results effectively depending on the smoothness of communication.
A team member that has fostered a respectable relationship with their peers is often able to collaborate on a stronger basis than those who do not know them on the same level. Tasks that need to be done with the help of that other person, for example, could sometimes be prioritised simply due to an established connection between the two parties.
It is the fostering of these relationships that is commonly performed during working hours and within the workspace. Remote workers, however, face the challenge of developing equally strong team dynamics if they are not physically around them to pick up on personality cues and general work practices.
In order to avoid miscommunication and develop a good overall relationship with remote team members, here are some tips.
As a starter, initiate an introductory phone call
If you have just joined a team in which some members do not work in the same office, make the decision to approach them directly by scheduling a call. This introduction only needs to be 15 minutes long in order to get to know your colleague and tell them a bit about your background and the key areas in which you will work. This initial ice breaker will go miles in making it easier for them to approach you with tasks or questions, as well as vice-versa.
Schedule regular catch-ups
Whether weekly or monthly, organising future phone calls at regular intervals will enable remote employees to share their progress with the wider team, in turn validating their role as well as making them visible members of the group. Keep these conversations short as to respect their time and hone in their focus; bored team members lead to unengaged team members.
Leverage video conference calling
If you have the luxury of having private meeting rooms, make use of them to also host video meetings with remote workers. Simply seeing their face can do wonders for humanising your team mate, reading their body language and overall bring yourselves together.
Invite them to special social occasions
The number of times in which you can do this depends of course on how easy and cost-effective it is for remote workers to attend these events. Christmas parties are the most popular way to get everyone together, but, if the budget allows, quarterly lunches could also go a long way to develop the relationship in an environment outside of work. Similarly, if you are a team leader, organise time within the year to visit the other member if they work in a different office.
Be mindful of the other person’s schedule
When working in the same office as a team member, it is easier to have a sense of their workload and schedule. The same cannot be said for remote workers, who will sometimes manage their own responsibilities away from the core of the main team. Those working on the other side of the globe may log in to their emails every morning to a bombardment of messages sent to them directly or through copy. To facilitate communication, consider cutting down on emails you send to them or avoid putting them in cc if it isn’t necessary for them to be involved completely. For smaller matters, instant messaging platforms can be just as just useful, whether it is Skype For Business or Whatsapp.