Without the right strategies for working together, even an all-star team can struggle. With a clear path forward through the project, you arm everyone with the direction they need to do their best work.
Getting the most out of your remote team comes down to two key factors: the expectations you set together and the communications you use to meet them. (Both are two-way streets.)
From day one, both you and the team you hire should know exactly what they’re working on and how they’re going to deliver the project.
That means you’ve already talked about and agreed on things like:
The “why”: Teams do best when they understand the business goals they’re helping to achieve. Having insight into the project’s purpose will help them provide more valuable input as they plan, build and deliver.
Project details: Go over budgets, timelines and all final deliverables. This may be captured in a requirements document or something similar. Either way, you’ll want to clearly define what that “end state” looks like and how it behaves.
Responsibilities and roles: Every person on the project should understand who is responsible for what, and who the key decision-makers are should issues pop up. Defining the point people for each phase will reduce confusion down the road.
Availability: Make sure both sides know who they can reach out to for questions or clarification, and when it’s best to do so.
Progress: Whether it’s a daily update or a weekly report, there should be a clear method for checking in on how the project is going and working through problems before they become roadblocks.
Communication: Don’t forget to define how you and the remote team will talk to one another to make sure everyone is engaged and connected throughout the day.
It’s one thing to have a plan in place and quite another to make it happen. Communication and collaboration are the heart and soul of execution.
Teams that do both well follow a few key guidelines:
Meet regularly. Being remote comes with a few disadvantages, notably that you don’t get to see everybody on the team each day. That’s why it’s important to schedule regular touchpoints to discuss yesterday’s progress, today’s goals, and any changes that happen in between. It’s also a great chance to encourage engagement, getting to know each member a little better and building a more personal relationship.
Acknowledge and confirm. In a face-to-face encounter, we show acknowledgement through a nod or an “okay.” Online, it’s a little different. You’ll need to work a bit harder to acknowledge that you’ve not only received a message but that you understand it as well. It never hurts to repeat back what someone said in your own words as a check that you’re on the same page.
Feedback is key. Working with a remote team is an opportunity for learning on both sides, especially as you’re ramping up and getting to know each other’s working styles. The fastest and most productive way to learn is to send some quick praise when your expectations are met, and a friendly nudge when they’re not.
Clarity beats brevity. It’s a misconception that the shorter the communication, the better. But it’s actually more efficient to read through a more detailed message than it is trying to interpret or following up on one that’s full of information holes. Aim for understanding over efficiency.
Leave room for fun. Communication feeds engagement, especially when it comes to stuff that isn’t strictly work-related. It’s completely okay to have a few Slack channels dedicated to social discussions. In fact, it’s another factor that builds and strengthens bonds and helps employees on both sides feel a personal attachment to the work they’re doing on your project. You are, after all, a team of humans working with humans.
Not sure what your expectations are? Need some help establishing good communication and collaboration practices? Don’t worry – a great development team can help you figure it out and stay organized through each phase. Just ask!