Many project teams, departments, groups find themselves suddenly thrown into the world of “remote” working. A few months ago, your tight-knit group was meeting every day in the project room, charts and timelines taped to the walls, notes on the whiteboard, the most needed printouts available on the table. Not so today. The charts are in some shared project folders, notes are on pieces of paper on your desk, and the most needed documents are hiding from plain view. The world has turned upside down, and it’s going to take a while for it to flip over.
In this new world, the project room has turned into a virtual room, with everyone looking like a “talking head”. As disruptive as this new work environment is, there is a way to ensure it remains productive. Timelines are still timelines; goals are still goals; and no matter what, your work has to be completed.
With all that in mind, here are 4 keys to making the “new” normal as productive as the “old” normal.
1. Empathize with teammates to build trust
You’ve heard the catchphrase “we are all in this together”. That couldn’t be truer when you’re talking about your teammates. As stated earlier, the pressure to get our work done doesn’t change, just because we are now doing it from home. What does change is how we support each other. Personally, I enjoy working from home. It’s quiet, and I have time to think, with limited interruptions. But there are people in our company who feel isolated, want the social interaction of a physical workplace, and have a harder time concentrating. What that means is our teammates need us to understand them “better” today. Working remotely, whether it’s seen as a blessing or a curse, is something we all need to acclimate to.
KEY: Be a better teammate, by being a better person. Take time to “check in” and find out how everyone is doing.
2. Create rituals & document everything
When moving from a physical location (project room or workplace) co-located with our team, we naturally lose the ability to just drop by and have a quick chat. It’s different when that conversation is no longer face-to-face, but through application like Slack, Zoom Messaging or plain old email, we can get some of that back. Start setting up video calls to just chat. It could be an open video meeting, where people can come and go without feeling like they need to attend. The coffee machine in the morning is the new “water cooler” – so set up some virtual coffee times when people can relax and talk about anything. We have seen (and we’ve done it ourselves) the virtual Happy Hour. Same idea, it’s not mandatory, just a casual meeting time and place to reconnect.
KEY: Create a new “flow” and social gathering experiences for your newly remote team.
3. Protect your time from empty meetings
Back in ancient times (like 2019), when your project room was filled with activity. You didn’t have time to create meetings that didn’t accomplish anything. Sure you had review meetings, you had update meetings, you had the occasional “where are we now” moments – but the majority of those meetings had a purpose. Just because we are no longer in and out of the project room, doesn’t mean we now need meetings with no purpose. In fact, the purpose of your meetings needs to be crystal clear now more than ever. It’s important the right people attend, prepared and ready to present.
KEY: Remote does not mean unprepared. Meetings, whether in person or virtual, is time you will never get back.
4. Mimic in-person collaboration
Sharing has never been more important than it is today. Not everyone is on the same page, our work schedules and sleep patterns are messed up, and “sharing” is a constant struggle when you’re working alone. BUT, this is exactly the time to “over share” with your teammates. Have calls, video or otherwise. Get feedback for your work. Ask questions, get feedback, research answers and share with others.
KEY: Don’t waste your teammates time, but finding the balance with remote teammates and projects is well worth investigating.
Keep those four keys in mind, and it will help create a smoother transition and better teamwork with your remote teams. And if you find yourself needing an upgrade or just want your home office to operate better, check our our video conferencing cameras and audio solutions for Home Offices.