What is remote work?
Let’s start with the basics, in this post a remote team will be defined as when one or more individuals are working together regularly from separate locations on a regular basis.
Remote working is not a one-size fits all concept, there is a scale of remote working which indicates the level of impact it is likely to have on a team. While this scale provides a good starting point, the impact is likely to differ depending on a variety of factors such as the collaborative ability of individuals working away from each other, the time-zones they operate in, and their role within the team.
In this first blog post of two on remote work, I’ll discuss a handful of types of remote teams and what you can do to optimise success when working in these environments.
The lone ranger
Generally, the remote working team-style with the least impact is when only one individual regularly works away from the rest of the team. The impact, however, can vary depending on the role of the individual. To minimise disruption it’s key to ensure that the individual is easy to contact via IM, email, phone etc. If this person is a key decision maker it may be useful to have an individual who can make a call if a decision urgently needs to be made. These measures can help to minimise bottlenecks and blockers for the rest of the team.
A situation which can wildly vary in impact is when one team is dependent on another, but they are both based in different locations. If these two (or more) teams do not regularly interact but are heavily dependent on each other this can be disastrous. A lack of interaction can quickly drive scapegoatism and a breakdown in communication, leading to missed requirements and therefore missed target dates resulting in subpar quality work. With this type of team, it’s imperative to invest in team bonding opportunities and put together a regular cadence of communications.
The big split
This happens when teams work across two or more different office locations on the same project day-to-day. This can become highly problematic, especially if the teams in different locations specialise in contrasting areas, for example designers on one site and developers on another. Try to split your teams into squads to keep your locations cross-functional to maximise the quality and frequency of work outputted . Make sure you have decision makers at each location, especially if working across different time zones, as this helps to avoid bottlenecks.
The widespread team
The final scenario, is managing remote teams when several people from the team are working from home or in separate locations. If most team members are working remotely in varying locations on different days this can be highly disruptive. In this scenario it’s really important to get plenty of face time with each other and where possible, choose certain days to colocate together.
In the next post in this series, I’ll be sharing some of the biggest challenges when it comes to remote working and my top tips on creating a one team mentality.