Keys to keeping the team together despite the distance
On some occasions, circumstances, whether it be due to our own work or factors external to the company, force some or all of the members of a team to work remotely and even from home, as is the case currently due to the health emergency we are experiencing. And in these instances, unity breeds strength. If we all row in the same direction, the challenges will be easier to face.
It is essential to keep working as a team despite the distance. Finding mechanisms and formulas that will help to carry out the same tasks in the office as at home, sharing the same goals and values to stay tight as a team and looking after human relationships are at the heart of a company and is what is created when sharing the same space. Achieving this depends on three key points: communication, forecasting, technology and communication.
Communication is equal to trust. Where there is more trust amongst everybody, there is more transparency, more implication, more creativity and better performance. So, with this distance, communication is more necessary than ever. Work can be virtual, but people are not. The best ideas are born out of human contact and collaboration.
For this reason it is important to have virtual tools that will allow us to be in permanent contact with all our colleagues. This doesn't just mean through the use of emails or chats. We need to see our colleagues because talking face to face is essential. That's why joint video conferences at certain times have become indispensable, as are spontaneous ones to talk and debate about ideas. Human contact is the basis of our personalities and the company's success. Virtual systems work better when everybody gives the best of themselves.
In order to help to maintain this closeness and friendliness between the members of the team, it is advisable to schedule a mid-morning break and a lunch break and take advantage of video calls for personal contact; for those chats that usually take place having a cup of tea of coffee whilst someone discusses the content of their lunch box.
It's important that nobody forgets to move, to get up and stretch their legs and change position whilst they work. We don't want being at home to mean we get numb and lethargic. So, an interesting option is to have an adjustable table that will allow you to alternate between working standing up and sitting down, and with chairs that adjust to your body and favour a comfortable position. Working sitting on dining room chairs or on the sofa can cause long-term health problems.
A computer and a wifi connection might be enough for answering emails or writing and sending out a report. But working in a team requires a lot more. New technologies provide new remote working tools that make team coordination and working on the network easier. From synchronised network data bases such as Box, to task planning and organisation applications such as Monday, Trello and Asana which allow the whole team to share projects, goals and deadlines.
Applications like these allow us to input detailed descriptions of each task, the deadline, the project's status and the people involved in each one. They can attach files and even create calendars depending on the tasks of each one. Meetings via Skype or Google Hangouts must also be a part of daily organisation.
Once the necessary tools are clear, it is time to define the team's internal organisation, not only from a professional point of view but also a personal one. This is so that coordination is the same both inside and outside of the work space.
In this sense, forecasting and planning are crucial. In order to implement a collaborative work system on the network, clear planning must be made with a series of daily routines in terms of tasks, meetings and schedules during the working day, with the deadlines, participants and goals for each task and project.
Also, each member of the team must ensure they have a suitable, comfortable and efficient space in order to work from home, for the time needed, appealing to team spirit and share values which will be the key to dealing with and overcoming any hurdles
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