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  • Writer's pictureHouria Bellatif

Still on board with remote work?

As of 2022, 26% of U.S. employees work remotely, and 36.2 million American employees are expected to work remotely by 2025. You may no longer be surprised by these stats; you might even think: "Enough already with this topic and all the posts and data out there." And yes, the remote workforce has been on the front pages for a few years. And I tell you what: It is still very much relevant. Many of the clients I coach (individuals or teams) report that staying connected and productive in remote and digital collaboration continues to be challenging.

The elements I will share below have been tested and proven efficient within different size organizations from various sectors, involving multi-generational workforces and geographically stretched teams. We will explore topics such as fostering meaningful conversations, setting clear expectations, staying organized, leveraging technology tools, and embracing flexibility without sacrificing quality or team morale. By intentionally incorporating these guidelines, you'll be able to build stronger relationships even if everyone is miles apart!

1. Set a clear path forward

Setting clear expectations, establishing well-defined roles and responsibilities, and outlining solid communication are all critical actions needed to create a well-lived remote culture within an organization. Subsequently, team members should be encouraged to take ownership of their tasks and feel proud of their progress on the project at hand. So do not feel the need to micro-manage.

2. Check for understanding, and check some more

You might say, "Well, this is not specific to virtual environments," and you will be spot on. This point is the basis of the success of all teams regardless of their setup. And you add distance to the mix; it becomes even more crucial.

The number of times I hear, "I feel I am clear and ask my team if they understand the assignment, and they say yes. Only to get missing deliverables or some that are different altogether". Sounds familiar?

What and how to ask makes all the difference. We need to be more intentional in our checking. Here are some targeted questions to consider:

- What questions do you have about the topic we discussed?

- In your own words, how can you summarize what we covered and/or your expectations?

- What is the objective of this initiative?

- How does this align with other work you currently have?

3. Video conferencing. WITH VIDEO PLEASE

Nothing beats a face-to-face conversation in any relational dynamic; video conferencing is the closest alternative in the current environment. That is only true If you activate the video feature in "Videoconference." If your camera is not on, it becomes a phone call without the added benefit of looking at others while they speak. You cannot observe visual cues, read body language, or assess the energy level in that exchange.

So please turn on your cameras. Not only does it allow for face-to-face interaction, but it can also help build or increase trust within teams by allowing people to put faces to names and establish relationships. In addition, it will enable remote employees to feel more included and connected.

4. Don't shy away from digital collaboration tools

It can be challenging for remote teams to communicate when discussing a project requiring proper visual demonstrations. This is where screen-sharing and annotations come in handy. They allow attendees to remotely share their computer screens and efficiently show each other what they're working on.

Screen-sharing also makes it much easier for people to explain complex concepts or processes. They can visually demonstrate what they are talking about and show the elements they are pointing at. It might take some "getting used to" and possibly some light tech learning effort, but very much worth the learning.

5. Use team folders and dedicated digital spaces

Shared documents and cloud storage solutions are essential for remote teams, allowing users to quickly store and share important files. With these tools, team members can collaborate on projects from any location, as all information can be stored in one easily accessible place. Common digital spaces offer real-time updates, so everyone is aware of any changes. It also helps solidify the connection you are trying to build from all the points we covered earlier.

6. Regular check-ins

Monitoring progress regularly allows the team to spot potential issues before they become more significant problems. Furthermore, it will enable observing performance over time which can help team members identify areas of improvement and develop strategies for solving any roadblocks.

By utilizing any or all the tips listed above, anyone working remotely can establish an efficient working environment that enables collaboration across various teams despite geographical obstacles.

What will you do differently to become a more engaged remote team member, or what will you incorporate into your teams' routines to increase collaboration and connection?

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