There is no replacement for in-person collaboration, and Credera is strategically designed to foster collaboration through the team room and open layout environment. The result is a culture of growth, participation, and sharing constructive feedback and ideas. However, there are situations when working on a remote team, across offices, or from home is inevitable. Whether it is working with remote clients, working remotely oneself, or as a hybrid team, it is common for individuals working in technology to experience the remote model in some capacity. In these cases, it is important to be equipped with tools and strategies for managing remote work.
Here are eight tips for working remotely on a hybrid teams.
1. try it out first
The flexibility of remote work can be a value add for some, but not all. Consider testing it out first. For some, it can be a struggle to remain focused and productive when not in an office. Integrity and trust are important aspects of the hybrid remote team, so be honest with yourself or your team to determine if it’s a viable option for you.
2. mitigate against isolation
When working remotely, it may take some coaching and practice with your team to reduce feelings of isolation. If it is a client or colleague who is remote, avoid activities that isolate them, such as asking individuals to raise their hand or frequently utilizing body language and gestures to make a point. Be mindful of any visuals you are sharing, especially whiteboards. Always double check that you’ve added a remote dial-in before sending invites, and once a call has started, verify that the remote team can hear sound clearly and see any presentations being shared.
Utilize regular touch points. Whether it’s the daily scrum or monthly touch points with individuals and clients with whom you want to retain relationships, these can serve as an opportunity to connect and remain in contact despite working separately.
If possible, book conference rooms for meeting attendees in each location. Credera has offices in Denver, Dallas, Houston, New York, and Chicago, so sometimes this looks like creating separate meeting invites for each location along with the dial-in.
3. debrief after meetings
After large group presentations or meetings, hop on a call to debrief with your team the same way you would if they were there with you in the room. When everyone is in the same location, it is easy to engage in these sidebar conversations and congratulate a job well done, discuss strategies for moving forward, or determine next steps while walking to your next meeting. If possible, call your remote client or team to include them in these conversations. This way, you ensure everyone is on the same page about how a meeting went or what is expected of them going forward.
4. move around
When working from an office, going to meetings or out for lunch keeps your body and mind in motion. If working from home, don’t forget to take breaks, walk around, and make sure you are staying active. It can also help to change up the scenery and try a coffee shop or coworking space from time to time. Working remotely can be a great opportunity to have lunch with peers and contacts you don’t see on a regular basis while in an office.
5. find the collaboration tool that works for you
We all know the struggles with trying to get audio conferencing to work, dealing with an unpleasant echo, and being randomly disconnected from calls. This alone can be a deterrent to working remotely, given the impact on productivity. If a tool isn’t working for you, try something else. WebX, Slack, Teams, Uber Conference, Zoom, and Google Hangouts are all great solutions for remote calls, and most have free options. For some, video conferencing can be awkward, but if your team is comfortable with it, it can be a great way to keep people connected. Video is also great for one-on-ones, because it is low pressure and personal. Find your cadence and your “thing,” master it, and encourage others to utilize it when communicating with you.
6. understand it will be more difficult to be heard
Disconnect is inherent in the remote model. If you are working from home or remotely, consider having an advocate in the room who checks the sound for you, and involves you in the conversation by explicitly asking for the input of “those on the phone.” If your client or team is remote, consider offering to be their advocate in large conference calls. Make sure to announce yourself on meetings, and name those in the room with you, so everyone has the full picture of who is involved in the conversation.
7. provide insight into your availability
It is often easy to be “out of sight, out of mind” in these remote situations. Take the extra effort to reach out proactively to your team and stay engaged. Keep your “status” up to date on your communication tool of choice to accurately represent your availability. When you are logging off for the day, consider letting those you work with closely know that you are done, the same way you might if you were heading out of the office. This will build trust on your team and let them know that you are available and they can rely on you.
8. stay disciplined
If you are the leader of a remote team, it is important to be strategic about for whom and when you allow remote work. At the same time, if you are deciding to work remotely, it is important to have discipline and integrity to retain that trust.
Keep your mental health in check. For some, working from home can mean longer hours because work is more easily accessible. Set boundaries for yourself based on the expectations of your workplace as well as your own concept of work/life balance.
For example, close your computer when you are done for the day. Adhering to this policy every day creates the impression of “coming home” from work or finishing a workday, rather than letting it bleed into your home life. Another way to separate work and life is to continue to behave as you would when going into the office. Getting dressed and maintaining your routine helps maintain this balance.
If you can, physically separate your workspace from home space and invest in some audio and desk tools. Marshall Treadaway, Credera senior architect, has an awesome at-home setup, and he recommends investing in a good monitor, bias lighting, and quality speakers, but try to find what works for you.
find your rhythm
These tips and tricks aren’t for everyone, so focus on finding your rhythm and sticking to it. Whether it is your colleague or yourself who is remote, be strategic about your time together. When the opportunity presents itself to meet in person, schedule team-building events or get-togethers to help grow the relationship. And for the situations that require remote collaboration, adjusting your communication strategy to support the remote model can turn a non-ideal situation into an asset.