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How to Build Strong Relationships in a Remote Team

Remember Hanlon's Razor

Remember Hanlon's Razor

Hanlon's razor refers to the idea that we should always assume ignorance before malice. This is especially important in situations where you're missing context.

If you're communicating via text with co-workers who are multiple time zones away, try to always assume ignorance before malice if you have a misunderstanding.

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How to Build Strong Relationships in a Remote Team

How to Build Strong Relationships in a Remote Team

https://zapier.com/learn/remote-work/remote-team-communication/

zapier.com

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Key Ideas

Building Rapport Remotely

To better build rapport and counter isolation do the following:

  • smile, tilt your chin lower so you're not looking down on them, and slow down your speech during your video calls, so you come across as being more credible.
  • set a finish time before starting a conversation with someone new to reduce the initial wariness.
  • Be more likable and validate others by listening to them and suspending your ego. Put aside your wish to contribute to the conversation and ask short, open questions like how, when, and why.

Relying On Text The Right Way

Voice and video calls can help you feel more in touch with your team and avoid the issues of asynchronous communication like time lags or misunderstandings.

However, you'll likely spend a lot of your day communicating via text as it’s a good way to interact without interrupting their work. So you need to be able to get your point across clearly and simply, show empathy and understanding, and be efficient to avoid wasted time.

Staying Up To Date

Remote workers can feel overwhelmed by the amount of text they have to process. So finding ways to keep on top of what's going on is imperative for communicating efficiently with others.

Create archive lists and CC irrelevant emails to them, so you can save and share them without flooding non-involved people. 

Remember Hanlon's Razor

Hanlon's razor refers to the idea that we should always assume ignorance before malice. This is especially important in situations where you're missing context.

If you're communicating via text with co-workers who are multiple time zones away, try to always assume ignorance before malice if you have a misunderstanding.

Asserting Yourself When Needed

One way to compensate for the lack of context in remote communication is to be more forward and open than you normally would. But doing so you're more likely to misread and bug people because you lack otherwise obvious physical signs that would let you adjust your behavior tactfully.

To reduce that issue it’s necessary to share that context explicitly with each other. An alternative is to set up rules for common issues ahead of time so everyone is more likely to be open about what they need and friction is reduced.

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Personal Connection

A sense of connection and belonging are sentiments that are helpful for building “affective trust” – a form of trust based on emotional bond and interpersonal relatedness.

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Statistics On Remote Workers
  • Loneliness was reported as the biggest downside for 21% of remote employees, and one of the reasons that makes them more likely to quit.
  • Most remote managers say they’d be more inclined to stay if they had more friends at work.
  • Individuals who have 15 minutes to socialize with colleagues have a 20% increase in performance over their peers who don't.
  • Positive social relationships are correlated with better life expectancy.
Dynamic Icebreakers

If your icebreaker questions are intriguing, cheeky, humorous – the answers you receive will be, too.

Many remote teams will kick off their weekly meeting with an icebreaker question or insert it during their morning stand-up meeting. Even more popular is asking a series of icebreaker questions during the onboarding process when hiring someone.

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Make Time To Connect

Workers crave a sense of authentic connection with others and the best way to do that is by bringing people together in person. But it's not always a viable alternative.

One way to do that...

Communication
  • Set clear expectations and make an effort to be a good listener.
  • Set clear boundaries. Establish a preferred time for communications so you feel respected and acknowledged.
  • Get to know others. Remote workers often have purely transactional interactions. Listen to people and get to know them.
  • Update people on what you’re working on and your availability
Use Shared Experiences

A co-located office develops its own personality through inside jokes, shared experiences, and a collaborative environment. A remote team needs to develop something similar.

Creating specific Slack channels based on interests and book clubs where the company funds the books are the easiest ways to do this for remote workers.

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Assembling the Team

... that's capable of executing in a remote setup:

  • Hire doers: they will get stuff done even if they are working from a secluded island.
  • Hire people you can trust....
Software/Tools

In a remote team, you'll need the right tools to make sure everyone stays on the same page and can continue to execute without a physical person standing next to them.

You likely will need a tool in certain categories like group chat and video conferencing to make remote successful.

Processes

Good processes let you get work done in the absence of all else. They provide structure and direction for getting things done.

A few examples from Zapier:

  • Weekly Hangouts;
  • Weekly One-on-Ones;
  • Bring the team together 2 times/year somewhere cool;
  • Automate anything that can be automated.