The Quiet Times - Deepstash

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Brainstorming from a Distance: How Distributed Teams Collaborate

The Quiet Times

Most people are so used to noise and the buzz of workplaces or even cafes that they find silence a bit tough to embrace. In truth, silence can be a great way to understand ones internal creative rhythm, if we learn to harness its power.

Better thinking can emerge out of silence, leading to creative ideas due to the natural clarity of thoughts.

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The challenges of hybrid teams
The challenges of hybrid teams

Most companies embracing remote work also have dedicated headquarters. But remote-ish teams have even more communication and collaboration challenges than fully remote teams.

...
Remote-friendly vs remote-first

The single biggest mistake companies can make is to opt to be remote-friendly instead of remote-first. Companies often accept the idea that remote is the future of work without creating an inclusive culture to ensure it works for everyone.

  • Remote-friendly environment: Employees are allowed to work remotely, but work is not optimized for it. There is a disconnect between office and remote employees and team meetings exclusively occur in a co-located time zone. Water cooler chat is a space for key decisions and presence is correlated with meaningful work. Communication is synchronous-first. Managers must work in the office.
  • Remote-first companies: Employees are empowered to adopt remote work. Real-time meetings are kept to a minimum and recorded. Decisions are made online and performance is measured by output, not by hours worked. Communication is asynchronous-first. Managers are encouraged to work from home.
Connecting a remote-ish team

Hybrid companies function best when the entire company is optimized for remote work. Successful hybrid teams set up processes to help their remote workers thrive alongside their office teammates.

Leadership must acknowledge the various challenges remote workers face and create solutions. Create a remote work policy that keeps remote workers and contractors from feeling like second class team members. Remote workers should feel fully connected and not missing a thing.

22% of Americans work from home

.... while nearly 50% are involved with remote or virtual team work.

This continuing shift calls for a new range of behaviors and skills.

Communication challenges for remote teams
  • Body language. Even when we share the same space, the tone of a text or of an email is left wide open to interpretation and can generate anxiety.
  • The delay between our messages can often postpone or hide emotional reactions to our comments. Lacking an immediate response, we can become distracted, second-guess ourselves, or even grow frustrated with our teams.
3 types of distance in remote teams
  • Physical (place and time)
  • Operational (team size, bandwidth and skill levels)
  • Affinity (values, trust, and interdependency).

The best way for managers to drive team performance is by focusing on reducing affinity distance.

Suddenly Working From Home

There is a sudden shift towards remote working in workspaces all across the world, with many people abruptly thrust towards it without warning.

Experts share a few tips on how to transition ...

Mimic Your Office Culture

For many of us, the office becomes a fun place due to a sense of community, purpose and fun interactions that make up an office day. To try and mimic your office culture virtually:

  1. Set up Slack channels for water cooler conversation
  2. Schedule virtual movie days, when the same movie is streamed with the chat option on.
  3. Try to recreate virtual versions of what employees miss the most in office, like a coffee break, for instance.
Being Social While Remotely Working

Being social at office lubricates official conversations and the work itself. The more we spend time with colleagues having non-essential chatter, the easier our work becomes with them.

It helps to be creative and infuse fun into a virtual interaction. Any official conversation, like a manager meeting his subordinates in a one-on-one meeting, can start by asking about the person’s life (something unrelated to work), so that a connection is built.