There’s no denying that the biggest obstacle to Remote Work has been the decreasing communication and collaboration amongst team members. With the ease of working in a physical environment gone, most managers and employees alike are unable to reach the same place of efficiency, especially because of fragmented interactions. No more can you simply walk over to a colleague to discuss small issues, or read their body language for unspoken social cues. The virtual world doesn’t allow for those small wins.
But it doesn’t mean you have to keep struggling as a remote employee!
The way ahead begins by understanding what are the greatest blocks to successful remote collaboration, and then finding ways to solve them in your own teams. Let’s start by decoding just how interactions become fragmented in the first place.
Lack of Collaborative Communication
Teams can only work effectively when they have the opportunity to collaborate with each other. But in a semi-remote, or remote environment, the opportunity for such collaboration greatly reduces. You have to set up virtual meetings to reach that place of inter-team communication. And how often can that really happen? And on what scale?
Most people get meeting fatigue jumping from one call to another. And without the proper ambience, it’s easy to get distracted or not partake in the conversation with the same gusto as you would in a physical meeting room.
This leads to people having more frequent team meetings without reaching the same place of collaboration as before! Employees fixate on their own agendas and problems, without recognizing how collaboratively communicating might lead to better results.
Which leads us to another problem.
When each team member is focused on their own problems, it is easy for some information to get lost or even remain uncommunicated. No longer does the proximity to other team members solve for such lost information. You can’t rely on physical closeness to allow you to keep track of all the conversations and meetings your colleagues may be attending without you. So, it is easier to reach a place of information silos. Where some members might not find it necessary to share information with their team. Or may not be able to consider its implications for the entire project.
This also results in decreasing trust levels between managers and employees, as well as amongst colleagues. Which consequently results in another issue.
With eroding trust, managers start finding it necessary to keep track of every move their employees make. Because they feel it is the only way to ensure that the work gets done on time. But micromanagement does not only happen between managers and their team, it can also show up between team members.
Some employees who work more might start keeping constant track of colleagues to verify that they are working as well. Or feel the need to check up with them on an hourly basis just to ensure the submission happens before the deadline.
This breeds further distrust, making everyone feel unsupported. Which is never ideal. Leading to more fragmented interactions, both deliberate and unconscious.
And the cycle continues.
So how do you step in to solve the biggest obstacle to remote work? Especially when your environment is making it even tougher?
We have identified a few key steps that you can start taking today to tackle these problems head-on:
- Practice Open Communication: This means setting expectations for every task allotted, clarifying goals, and deciding deadlines that work for everyone. And it also means developing the habit in your team to communicate what may seem inconsequential. This doesn’t necessarily have to result in holding frequent meetings. It can mean just sending a quick message on your group chat. To ensure everyone is looped in at all times.
- Make Flexibility Key: The biggest perk of remote work is that it offers flexibility to employees. So make sure you actually provide this flexibility to your team. This means allowing everyone to work at their own time, while trusting them that they will meet the deadline. If one team member works better between 1pm-5pm, allow them to push more demanding tasks to that time. Do not always ask them to work at the same time you work best. This will ensure higher productivity levels, and a team that actively communicates with one another in a positive environment.
- Prioritize Intentional Informal Conversations: Informal conversations are the only way you can foster socialization and deep connections that matter. But you can’t wait for them to happen. This means you must intentionally integrate informal chats into your and your team’s workday. Maybe partaking in daily check-ins, or having a virtual space set up for ‘water-cooler’ conversations can help. Find unique ways to help your peers and team come together beyond the scope of work interactions.
These are just a few ways in which you can minimize the biggest obstacle to remote work currently, and make your remote team collaborations successful. For more insights into successful remote working, you can also check out more insights and resources!
And if you want to have conversations on how to continue your limitless growth in the current environment, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!