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“Can we really be productive from home?” “When do I work?” “Where do I work?” “Do I have to turn on my camera?” “What about my kids being home?” “How on Earth can we do all this?” 😲
These are questions floating in the minds of online teams around the world. The sudden shift from in-person to distributed work has led workers to redefine their normal daily routine.
In this webinar, four global remote leaders shared their expert advice on how remote agile teams can thrive in a fully-distributed environment. The panel included: Stella Garber of Trello, Mike Hansen of Sonatype, David Horowitz of Retrium, and Marcus Wermuth of Buffer.
Co-hosted with Agile Alliance and moderated by Johanna Rothman of Rothman Consulting Group, the panel discussed the benefits and opportunities of leading distributed teams and shared actionable advice on strategies, processes, and tools that allow remote workers to thrive.
As Stella Garber explains, teams are not experiencing “normal” remote work right now, and the conditions that have led companies to explore online operations will change. However, many companies are considering how to adjust and successfully build distributed team structures that will help the team remain sustainable and agile for the long haul.
Ginny got a new puppy, and John just bought a new house! Water cooler moments aren’t just a time to showcase your DIY skills, these moments help build team camaraderie and rapport. So how do you preserve these moments when there is no water cooler?
Luckily you can use tools to create similar spaces and experiences in a virtual environment that employees would expect to have if they were in-person. The panelists explained how their teams use Slack channels based around personal interest like movies, animals, or even general water-cooler conversations.
Each of our experts described the importance of prioritizing socialization. Whether through chat options or through optional video calls with their teams, such as happy hour or brunches to chat about specific topics or enjoy general banter.
Fostering these in-person experiences online like birthday celebrations and coffee chats help to build cohesive and maintain connected cultures even from a distance.
All of the panelists agreed that asynchronous communication is just as important as synchronous communication on a remote team. Not everyone on your team will feel comfortable speaking up in video meetings or even be able to attend due to timezones. Sending out agenda’s, allowing for questions and topics to be submitted beforehand allows others to prepare questions or ideas ahead of time to make sure everyone’s ideas are being heard. 🤝
Another popular point is to encourage your team to document processes, information, and updates to ensure that everyone has access to the company’s knowledge whenever they may need it. So if your team is expanding or needs a refresher, it is easy to make sure everyone is on the same page.
On a remote team, communication can happen in a variety of mediums — email, chat, phone, video calls, and even shared documents. The panelists encourage remote teams to choose their preferred communication channels and to set guidelines on how they are used. And when communicating, context is key. This means that team members take the time to provide their coworkers and managers context to their updates, challenges, and solutions.
Many attendees asked how remote teams and leaders can encourage and support their teams (as well as themselves) as remote work becomes the norm. The top advice from the panelists, focus on empathy and actually practicing and encouraging self-care.
Successful remote workers take frequent breaks, set clear boundaries between work and home (even if it’s all in the same space), and to be open to flexible work especially if your team is encouraged to make an impact based on their outcomes, not input.
These past few months have been stressful. Luckily, as we continue to create new routines, we can look to the many teams that have navigated working from home successfully for years. This global conversation and experiment around remote work prove that when managers and teams work together and support one another, they can create thriving cultures, processes, communication structures, and experiences that prioritize the people within their teams.
As your team continues to navigate this new world of remote work, take comfort that many organizations have blazed a clear path for success. By following in their footsteps and adding your own flavor to your processes and culture, your team can thrive as well.