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Managing teams collaborations when working remotely

Remote meetings can be a life line for workers who work remotely. And they are an inexpensive way to get people who might physically be very far apart to come together.

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One of the most common forms of communication for teams of all kinds is the meeting. This is also true for people who work remotely. According to Katherine Boyarsky, (March 4, 2020) Remote Meetings 101: Everything you need to Know.) Remote meetings are defined as when a group of people who are dispersed across different locations. Use video and audio to connect online. Remote meetings need more organization. Than those where everyone is in the same location. As a means to share information with the whole team in a timely fashion. And in a format that they can all access and understand. Meetings can be a life line for workers who work remotely. And they are an inexpensive way to get people who might physically be very far apart to come together. You avoid airfare and hotel costs as well as several other incidental costs that crop up when you have to bring all your team members together physically.

Things to consider

1. Team members need emails to send formal and lengthy information to other. But for shorter messages, Text messaging (e.g. what’s app) is more useful. For keeping in touch with remote teams as everyone has a smart phone these days. Which they usually have with them at all times. People tend to read and respond to texts a lot more than emails.

2. It is important to have chat rooms for team members who are not coping that well with remote working. So they can access and leave messages on. Some companies also have informal chat rooms for teams working remotely. To keep in touch with each other . Skype is an example of software that can be used for that purpose.

3. It is important to have ways of measuring the productivity of the team. Productivity can also be measured using software tools designed for that purpose.

4. It is necessary to be flexible when arranging work hours for remote workers. Especially during a pandemic, managers have to be able to track workers attendance. And hours worked and what tasks they are working on. If workers are to collaborate they have to be available at the same time when necessary. There are software that handles these needs. Team leaders have to choose the one that best caters to their company’s need.

5. It is no longer enough to send emails back and forth. When assigning tasks to the team members or to schedule meetings. For some types of communications, video conferencing is necessary. While for others email or audio is enough.

When part of the work force works in an office, while other team members work remotely. This can be challenging at times. As what is convenient for the office workers might not be for those who work remotely. In this situation it would be best if all meetings are held remotely including those who are in the office and those who work remotely. Using video conferencing apps so your team get to interact face to face.  As opposed to talking to disembodied voices on the telephone.

Meetings can be difficult to get just right. There are so many moving parts that the likelihood of something going wrong is quite high. Especially for remote workers. Although some people would love to avoid meetings altogether. It is true that many meetings can be replaced by a few well-placed emails. However, most people would agree that meetings are a must if the team is to work collaboratively. Meetings should be held only when they are essential for team collaboration. The person calling the meeting should be clear of the purpose of the meeting.

This is even more crucial for teams that are working remotely. Because outside of the meeting there is very little interaction. The meeting provides the opportunity for a recap of the previous week. Problems can be solved together with confirmation of team goals. As opposed to individual objectives. The Manager or team leader can make sure that everyone is on the same page.

At the end of the meeting everyone should be clear about what their goal is. And what the order of priority is for the team. Remote Meetings can be used to make important decisions. Strengthen the relationships between team members, share any updates and listen to complaints. It allows the leader to demonstrate leadership skills. It gives them an opportunity to provide team motivation in the coming week/month/quarter. It allows the leader to show their expertise in communicating and setting goals. Meetings can aid productivity and engage employees if properly run.

Deciding if you need to have a meeting is important. There are times that a meeting isn’t what is needed. They are often scheduled because that is what we are accustomed to. The temptation to call a meeting when its not needed is greater among teams that work remotely. Often fuelled by someone’s need for human contact, or the need to be heard. If in doubt, a good rule of thumb is less is more. If you try another communication method and it doesn’t quite work. The option is always there to then call a meeting. But if you hold an unnecessary meeting, once it gets going it’s too late to do anything about it.

To keep in contact remotely teams must use the best apps and systems. This is necessary if the team is to stay in touch, be productive and avoid miscommunication. You also need to ensure that all your employees are using the same operating procedures. And not doing their own thing. To ensure this, there should be written procedures and systems to follow.  

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