While the world may not physically be shrinking, our global workforce is closer than ever. However, team building when members are telecommuting, working from a conference or anywhere on the road, may seem difficult. There are varying time zones as well as varying skills and technologies to deal with. But we've got some tips to make team development with remote teams a bit easier.
Sometimes it's not easy to work with someone from halfway across the world. Just scheduling meetings with different time zones can be annoying. Having flexible work hours is a good start to this, but to get more impact try letting people set their own schedules. This way they can work on their own natural rhythm and schedule team meetings when it works best for them. The key is open communication that flows freely.
Devil's in the details
In a traditional work environment you can walk down the hall and talk to someone. The subtle nuances aren't lost when you can hear a voice and see a face. However, when you work remotely these fine details are lost—and they're very important. These details are important because they can communicate the subtle feelings and needs behind the words.
This problem can be solved by utilizing video conferences more often. There are free tools available, such as Skype, Uber Conference and others. By utilizing technology to it's fullest, you can work through the small details to work on solutions for your business.
One of the more interesting things that some companies have had great success with is the collaboration of their remote teams. There many tools on the market—both free and paid, each with different strengths— that can help you with this. For example, task list tools like Asana and Trello can can allow your group to work on and track a project together from different geographic places. Then, there are tools like Evernote and Dropbox, which allow you to share large files, notes and ideas. And, of course, there are also tools like Google Documents and Zoho, which can help your team work on a document online together. Really, there are thousands of tools out there for many different needs. Taking time to explore your team's needs will make finding the right solution a lot easier than you may think.
When you're a remote team, it takes ingenuity, open communication, and a willingness to work with an open mind. It's challenging, no doubt about it, but with the right attitude, and a desire to try new tools, you can find the right supports—and team mates—to get the job done and build strong engagement and a sense of team and community no matter where you are.
How do you manage team building with remote teams? What are the successes and challenges you've experienced?