Remote work definitely has its perks – no commute, flexible work time, and relaxed dress code. Working from home can also be a bit of a downer. You may feel alone compared to working in person at the office. Working with a remote team isn’t the same as working face-to-face, but when done well, you’ll feel a sense of community.
Here’s what you need to know about working with a remote team, from the culture to the technology of communication.
The Tech that Connects Across Borders
Remote work is like taking all the people working in the same office and scattering them apart like jigsaw pieces.
It’s the same team, but each person is in a different place. Your reliance on technology increases thousandfold, while your ability to read people through body language (smiles, frowns, crossed arms, slouches) becomes almost obsolete.
You’re learning a new way to communicate.
Remote teams decide on what types of technology to communicate urgent messages, lengthy messages, schedules, and work tasks. You’ll be learning what type of message goes on which platform and when.
For example, messaging apps like Telegram, Signal, Skype, and Whatsapp might be used for group chats for instant and urgent messages.
Platforms such as Asana, Monday.com, Clickup, and Zoho can be used to track work tasks. Information for each task includes who the task is assigned to, when it’s due, what needs to be done, progress as multiple steps in a task are completed, and extra notes on what a team member needs to know.
Knowing what messaging goes where and how often you need to check and update various chats and apps is crucial. If you’re confused about the system, then communication can break down fast. If communication is clear, then it will be efficient, no matter where everyone works and what time zone they are in.
Remote Teams Socialize at Odd Hours
Over time, you’ll adapt to the time zone differences and learn to work around them. For example, if you live in Canada and your role in a task is completed first, then you’ll leave instructions about what you’ve done in the project management application. When your teammate wakes up in Europe, your teammate will then work on the next step in that task.
Notes to your teammate about when something will be done, or when you can meet for a quick virtual chat will automatically include a date, time and time zone. You may even readjust your sleep schedule so that you can work at the same time and respond to messages more quickly.
I’ve worked with a remote team with members in Europe and Asia, so we discovered our sweet spot for messaging each other in a steady flow of conversation was best in the early hours of the morning.
Just like water cooler conversations at the office, conversations can become social during work hours. The main difference is these conversations take on a more international theme.
For example, you might trade food photos to compare local cuisine, or compare notes on how you celebrate Christmas in your part of the country or the world. During the pandemic, the remote team I worked with shared stories about the pandemic and how people survived in each of our countries.
You start to make friends in other parts of the country and other parts of the world.
Getting on the Same Page with the Team
When working with a remote team, you may find that one of the biggest challenges is getting everyone on the same page. Whether your team members are located in the same city or in different countries, it’s important to have regular meetings to go over big picture goals.
The team should have a regular meeting at least once a week to review the major goals and priorities of the company. If new projects are starting, the team should discuss the purpose of the project and go over any questions people may have.
Working with a remote team is different from working in-person with your teammates. You’ll need to be familiar with technology and the system that your company has set up for people to communicate with each other. With a global team, you may even need to change when you work or, at least, when you expect your teammate to reply. However, working remotely may also have its perks, such as making connections with people from other parts of the world.