Your smartphone alarm rings at 5:00AM, and you set it to that obnoxious buzz so you’re not lulled to sleep. Your remote team has been working while you were asleep and you wake up to see your inbox with a glowing report from your team members. You know you’ve done something right. In this post, I am going to cover how to get that glowing report by using good practices when working with a remote team.
Details, details, and oh yes...details!
Details come into the forefront when working with a remote team because of the lack of face time you would normally have when working in the same office. A good practice to employ is to communicate clearly in detail the items you want covered over email, a conference call, a messaging client and a report. These are the four touch points, which are critical to cover what action items need to be completed.
Let’s start with email, since that should be the first point of contact for your team. An email should include a priority list, outlining what you see as most important for the team’s focus. The email should thoroughly explain what it is that needs to be done, along with any supporting media (i.e.: powerpoint, screenshot or wireframe document). Anything visual to aid in the context of your email priority list will help the team to better understand your request. The email also acts as a checklist for items to be completed throughout the day. It is good for the team to have a written reference point to avoid any miscommunication.
Sync up time! Now that your team has had a chance to review your email request in writing and any supporting media, it’s time to chat. Pulling in team members to join a call to go over the email is essential. In writing, no matter how proper, things can be up for interpretation. Use your priority list as an agenda. Boom! Doubly effective. Take the time to explain each requirement for the day and allow your team to have a Q&A session to clarify anything that wasn’t clear in the email.
You may only be available for a few hours in the morning or night, depending on the timezone of your remote team. Being available on a messaging client, like Skype or Telegram, at those given times allows your team to communicate immediately via a live forum. If a message isn’t clear enough, some chat clients offer a call function to have a quick voice sync up.
It’s important to report deliverables for the priorities from the day. Reporting is a dynamic process, but the end goal of all reporting is to quickly and easily find the information required. Setup a format that works for you and your team. Ideally, the report should include – Project Name, Date, Executive Summary, Priority Details, Blocking Items, Pending Items, and Open Issues.
Finding your groove
Encourage the remote team to provide you with feedback on how you are communicating. Do they need more supporting media to be efficient? Do they require any changes to the email format? Anything else they would like added in the reporting process? Following the above is just the framework to working with a remote team, and you will find what works best, but now you have a platform for good practices. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions; I’m always happy to help.