Due to recent events, organisations are moving into a new work paradigm. So are the software tools and best practices on working from home. However, there are still many companies that prefer to have a 100% office-based workplace. This is because of fewer boundaries in terms of face-to-face communication.
The world today is experiencing unprecedented challenges when it comes to working together physically. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared a state of emergency because of COVID-19. Within the last few weeks, they announced that the outbreak is considered a pandemic. Because of this, different countries have either partially or entirely shut down and recommend work-from-home policies to stop the spread of the virus.
Now let us explore what is the meaning of a distributed team, in other words, remote work or work from home.
What is a distributed team?
In the simplest form, a distributed team is a group of people who work in different locations and communicate through digital channels such as emails, video, text and voice calls. Powell and Ives defined distributed teams as groups located at different locations, brought together by information and telecommunication technologies to accomplish organizational tasks.
With the definition out of the way, let’s look at the ten best practices to run a distributed team inspired by the most recognised companies leveraging distributed teams.
The Top 10 Best Practices to Run Distributed Teams by the Most Recognised Distributed Companies:
1. Define your goals
In every task, there should be a goal. The key to a successful distributed team depends on meaningful goal-setting. Most employees have freedom on where they want to work and how they want to do it. However, they need a specific direction which is guided by their managers. Your organisation can use SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based) goals metrics, to define your daily agenda. Through SMART criteria there will be a clear objective on how to complete the work successfully.
Many companies such as Google, Microsoft, Samsung and more are using SMART goals in their daily business operations. Here are the guidelines on how you can apply SMART on your distributed teams:
2. Implement weekly virtual meetings with your team
Let’s start by defining what is a virtual meeting. In general, it is people from different places using video, audio and text to connect online. It also authorizes the team to share information and data in real time without being together physically. There are different services you can use to make it happen such as Skype, Zoom, and Google Meet.
Moreover, through virtual meetings the team can align with the project plan they would like to implement with everyone. Discussing the tasks together makes it easier and understandable, and this virtual environment also feels real to motivate the employees to work productively.
3. Use collaboration software tools
For the past ten years, there has been a boundless adaptation of different software collaboration tools. In the past, the programs used were limited, But today everything is possible with Slack, Microsoft Teams, and more. It supports communication through real-time conversation and without disruption. According to Institute for Corporate Productivity (ICP) companies that use Slack believed that an approximately 49% reduction in the amount of email they received, and a 32% increase in efficiency. Furthermore, we can see below the importance of collaboration tools in an organisation.
4. Tracking productivity
In a distributed team, it is an important factor to track productivity. There are many ways of doing this even if you are not together with the team. One of them is Wiredelta’s favourite project management tool Asana, which helps you to track and manage the tasks of everyone. Asana is fast, insightful, and easy to navigate. When grouping certain projects and marking them as completed. Additionally, monitoring the team’s responsibility online leads to being more productive and collaborative. It also saves time to update the status of the task from your employee every now and then.
5. Communication is the way
Communication without physical contact is somewhat crucial for an organisation. However, with effective and constant communication the team can work together as one. It is highly recommended to call each other when in doubt. Through prioritizing calls the other person can answer immediately for the concerns. However, regardless of communication style either synchronous or asynchronous options, the staff are encouraged to stay in touch regularly. To understand better how to improve communication in a distributed team, here’s a short video for you.
6. Building trust
One of the necessities of a successful team is trust. It makes people to be more united, especially in a distributed team, and one way to do so is via group bonding activities. When trust is present, the work is more progressive because you don’t have to check on whether the work gets done or not by your colleague. It must be tough without physical contact, but everything is possible. Furthermore, transparency is very important. The staff can communicate regularly with their managers. This is for updating the progress of a certain project and meeting the deadline for it. As mentioned in the previous practices: communication is the way. Additionally, always think positive. If you are assuming the worst, it will be difficult to build trust easily. Accordingly, adjusting your assumptions and having a completely positive mindset can benefit your distributed team more.
7. Practice the same routine as in the office
When you are working from home, try to make your routine as it is in the office. You can start by finding the right spot at your home. Some have an office room, some have not. However, you can always use your kitchen table as your working space. This will help you to get to have an office vibe, plus easy access for a coffee break.
Furthermore, the next step would be: “Take a shower and get dressed. Treat it like a real job.” According to Barbara Larson, who studies in a distributed team at Northeastern University in Boston. By doing this, it will be more manageable to avoid some distractions.
8. Create an online learning system (LMS)
When working remotely, technology is your buddy to keep the communication going. By implementing an online learning system, your company can create a team-building without physical presence. One example of this is the ‘Ready Learner One’. Through these learning systems, your team members can be educated as well as play with their colleagues through a treasure hunt through AR and VR technology. Moreover, your people will be more motivated and can still have a bond together virtually. Here’s a sample video for you so you can have a visual outlook on how it works.
9. Task and results-focused approach
In your organisation, it is important to have a task and a results-oriented mindset. Some of you might think that the more time allocated in a task the more efficient it is. However, the nature of a distributed team is measuring accurately how much time your employee works on a certain project. Therefore, aiming at the outcome is the best way to measure their productivity.
10. Setting timetables
The timeline for tasks is very crucial when working in a distributed team. Consequently, it is very significant to have in your company. Gantt Chart is one of the ways to track your projects. Having visual representations of the task is a good practice when working in a different location. It is also considered as one of the powerful tools, its clarity and effectiveness make your time well managed.
In conclusion, technology is one of the most important factors for the business to continue operating in work from home challenges. We hope that the guide on 10 best practices helped your organisation to get through this. Wiredelta is here for you to continue providing the latest technological trends.