Published On: Tue, Jan 3rd, 2017

Tactics for Cooperatively Connecting Colleagues

Remote working from home has taken off in every sector, not just the IT industry, due to its numerous advantages in improving the work/life balance and saving money, but it has come with its share of downsides too. Many people feel that they aren’t as connected with their colleagues as much as they were when they worked in an office and find it harder to form the working relationships they need in order to complete projects together. Even if your team does work remotely, even from different time zones, it is still possible to nurture these bonds and connect every member of the team, resulting in an improved output. Here are just a few ways to try out:

video conferences for IT

 

  1. Over Communicate

A Harvard Business Review article published by Time suggests that you can make up for the lack of in-person interaction by over communicating online. You could do this by holding regularly scheduled catch-up meetings or leaving some time at the beginning of each meeting for socializing and announcements. When your only interaction with colleagues comes through online conferencing, it is easy to focus on the job alone and leave out the social side. The lack of physical interaction easily cuts out the small interactions and sharing of personal news and details, so opening up as many opportunities as you can to allow for these will enable working relationships and friendships to develop naturally. If you open up the communication channels and make them easily available and affordable, you may find that colleagues begin to use their conferencing software for informal chats, the same as they would do in an open plan office space. Nobody likes ‘office gossip’ or to be disrupted by talkative colleagues, but neither do they want to work in isolation or cut out the office culture entirely. Finding the right balance of interaction and working undisturbed is essential in order to gain the best of both worlds.

  1. Use Collaborative Tools

As an IT professional, you should already be aware of new tools that allow for online collaboration, and perhaps have been using some of them already. You can make the most out of them by using them for joint projects and by encouraging your colleagues to do the same. You could introduce video conferences for IT troubleshooting with software such as BlueJeans. Or you could encourage others to use Google docs for group projects, plugging how much more convenient it is than e-mailing documents back and forth to read the other person’s edits. If you demonstrate them properly, your colleagues are sure to see the benefits and make the switch.

  1. Make Others Feel Included

Entrepreneur suggests that creating an air of all-inclusiveness amongst your team and setting a good example by encouraging everyone to participate makes even remote workers feel valued as a member of the team. Those who are shyer than others can easily become left out if they aren’t in the room with others. Encouraging everyone on a video call to share their own ideas and present their work for others to see will take measures to avoid this and improve team spirit. It is also important to take a few moments at the end of each call to let every person know that you appreciate the hard work they are putting in, as it will motivate them to work harder in the future. When people feel valued as an essential part of a group, they are much more likely to work better with that group and turn out better results.

  1. Don’t Rely on Text Communication

E-mail, social media, and text chat have all been great innovative tools for connecting colleagues and clients and still have their uses. However, without the use of natural body language and facial expressions, they take out a necessary level of communication and can easily be misinterpreted. There is also no way of knowing when people are away from their computers and unable to reply to an urgent message. Constant use of social media can also become a distraction, and easily cause a falling out if somebody posts something that another deems offensive. They also feel much more impersonal. Encourage others to use e-mail or a text chat feature when they need it and social media for socialization, but to speak through video chat at all other times. They might even eliminate the need for e-mail altogether, as some companies are doing.

Working remotely and communicating through video conferencing doesn’t mean that a team can’t still work well together and form friendships. It simply means that their means of social interaction will change. In some ways they will be an improvement, allowing people to work in a way that is right for them rather than forcing socialization at inappropriate times and disrupting the natural flow of work. Encourage the above communication techniques with your remote team and you will see how well they function together as both colleagues and friends.