4 Best Practices of Remote Teams

Remote work has solidified its spot in the modern workplace, with more and more employees working remotely each year. Technology has made it easy to embrace remote work, and many of those technology companies are completely remote themselves. With the increase in remote work over the past five years, leaders have uncovered various tips and tricks that help managers and their teams excel. The following four best practices of remote teams have been gathered from experts on the remote workplace and are sure to make a difference for your teams.

1. Over-Communicate

For remote work to be successful over time, communication is crucial. When digital communication is more frequent than face-to-face interactions, you have to communicate more often and use more use detail, context and even emojis to make up for the lack of physical presence.

Being very conscious about how you communicate includes being upfront about problems, rather than alluding to them, while making sure to empathize and relay the emotional context that can’t be seen. This helps prevent the misinterpretation of messages, which often leads to work errors, conflicts, and hurt feelings. Establishing standards for communication can help ensure that everyone is on the same page.

And of course, there are conversations that are easier to do and should be done face to face rather than through chat. When there’s something meaty to talk through, start a video call rather than typing back and forth.

In addition to constant real-time communication, teams should have regular meetings to keep everyone in sync. It’s important to give everyone a chance to share their updates and concerns and for managers to recognize the work individuals have been putting in.

Effective communication is essential for remote work, and as Jeff Robins, CEO of LullaBot says, “If you don’t communicate well at a distributed company, you don’t exist.”

2. Use Real-Time Communication Technology

With communication so central to the success of remote teams, it’s necessary to provide teams with technology that allows for continuous, real-time communication and collaboration. These real-time tools make remote work drastically more efficient, no matter how far apart teams are located.

Remote teams will need to communicate in a variety of modes such as instant messaging, file sharing, phone and conference calls, and video chats. These modes eliminate the need for email for internal communication and when combined into a single app, make communication effortless and grounded in the context of the work that’s being done. For example, teams can create different groups for discussing different projects and action items, and with in-app integrations, they can directly pull in the files and documents that they are collaborating on.

3. Prioritize Relationships and Culture

Strong relationships built on trust and respect are a must for any team. With remote teams dispersed across cities and even countries, strong relationships and a culture of respect, trust, and transparency are key.

Team members need to have a deep understanding of each other’s perspectives, roles, and responsibilities. Investing in travel for face-to-face meetups every so often and encouraging the team to socialize about topics other than work plays a large role in building a successful remote team.

4. Hire the Right People for Remote Work

The last of our best practices of remote teams might be the most important one. No matter how well you set a remote team up for success, it won’t work if the team is made up of people who just aren’t cut out for working remotely.

While remote work has gained huge traction, it isn’t for everyone and you have to find people that will thrive while working remotely. Good remote workers are motivated, organized, independent, and most importantly, can get things done without being micromanaged. Wade Foster, CEO of Zapier, puts it well: “hire people you trust and trust the people you hire.”

Tried and True Best Practices of Remote Teams

With so many companies, such as Trello, Zapier, and Atlassian, mastering the art of the distributed workforce, it’s clear that remote work isn’t going away. Research has even found that people rate the option to work remote as more important than salary and PTO. And companies benefit from a greater pool of talent to choose from.

If your company is taking advantage of remote work or wants to start, following these best practices of remote teams will get you off to the right start. Above all, remember that effective communication and a strong culture is central to high-performance remote teams.

ABOUT Kristen Wells

Kristen is the senior manager of corporate communications at PTC and editor of Field Service Digital. She is passionate about elevating the stories of women in field service and improving communication between the field and the office. Prior to ServiceMax, Kristen held content marketing roles at startups such as Zinc and cielo24. Kristen holds a B.A. in Communication with an emphasis on Professional Writing from the University of California, Santa Barbara.