The Four Essential Strategies of a Successful Remote Team

Productivity

Traditionally, classical music organizations have had a headquarters where employees went to work. Today, the same structure prevails, but new technologies enable organizations and orchestras to work remotely and have some team members always work virtually. How can you make your organization as productive as possible in this new environment?

At Molina Visuals, we are natives to the virtual work environment (we were born remotely!). Our team members are distributed throughout the world. One of our clients was even so inspired by the way we work that they adopted some of the workflows and technologies we use for their organization. If you want to successfully carry out projects with remote team members too, here are four things we do that you can implement in your organization.

1.      TRAIN YOUR REMOTE TEAM ON THE NEW TECHNOLOGIES

None of us were born knowing how and when to use technology. Train your senior team members on using new technologies that assist remote workers. Organize specific trainings where team members can learn and practice. Start from the basics and don’t take anything for granted. From how to turn on a video during a conference call, to screen sharing or synchronizing cloud storage–never assume that anyone is familiar with a technology.

Every time your organization adopts a new technology, make sure to organize a training or record a video explaining how it works and how your organization will use it. Creating a special training session for it will turn it into a valid communication channel or tool.

Document everything so team members can easily go back and check if they have a question.
It’s easy to ask a question when you run into somebody in the corridor but harder when you have to call or email somebody who is far away.
Make it easy for all team members.

2.      HUMANIZE THE VIRTUAL MEDIUM

When we work from a distance one of the biggest barriers is to make everyone feel like part of the team and to make sure that all important information is shared. You’ll probably need to make an extra effort and incorporate new techniques that involve notifying people who work remotely. Here are some tools we use that might help you:

Record Video Messages

We use videos to communicate internally all the time. Just think about how long it takes to write an email and how little people read. Compare that to recording a video that lasts a maximum of 5 minutes. The first time you’ll probably be a little shy, but soon you’ll save time and communicate more efficiently. Record yourself sharing your screen to show something to a colleague, or record yourself from your webcam if you just want to give them a message. Recording videos for your team members will have the side effect of having fewer meetings and more efficient communication.

Mac users can use their built-in screen recorder (QuickTime Player) and for Windows, we recommend Tiny Take or Screencast-O-Matic.

Voice Messages

If you are on the go, the alternative is to just send a voicemail. You can record it on your phone and send it to the person you need to talk to. This is especially convenient when your team members are in different time zones. For that, you can use a built-in app, Skype, Slack, or even WhatsApp.

Slack

Of all the quick messaging apps, we prefer Slack because it allows us to organize conversations more efficiently. When you set up Slack for your team, make sure to set up guidelines and explain how to use Slack and the notifications. Otherwise, it might be a little overwhelming for some team members.

3. ALWAYS USE VIDEO

If you’ve worked with us, you know we always invite our clients and team to face-to-face meetings or meetings with video. We might even postpone a meeting if someone’s video isn’t working because we perceive 80% of a message from body language. We don’t want to miss out on that! Plus, video is a great way to build trust.

We also love video because it allows for real collaboration. Otherwise, when you have remote teams and only do conference calls without video, some team members might not pay full attention to the call:

Instead, have calls with video: The meetings will be faster and everybody will be engaged. Use Zoom, or GoToMeeting for calls with large groups.

This is an image from our monthly get-together, a space of growth and socialization for the Molina Visuals core team members.

4.     INVEST IN COLLABORATION TOOLS

Cloud Storage and Document Sharing

When your team is remote and needs to access shared documents, there is only one painless way: cloud storage. We recommend Dropbox, Box, and we personally use Google Drive.

Project Management Tools

If you feel frustrated because you have too many emails in your inbox when you start work each day, it’s because you aren’t using a project management tool yet. We use project management tools to organize tasks, assign them to team members, share information, and all be on the same page about deadlines and the current status of the project. Team members can log in, do their tasks, and check them off as done so everyone involved knows the status.

We like to use Teamwork because it’s the most robust collaboration tool and we like projects to run seamlessly. If your organization needs a lighter version, we recommend using Trello, Redbooth, or Basecamp for interactions between team members, whether they’re remote or all in the same office.

Before implementing new technologies across the entire organization, test them in a small department and only apply them to everyone if they’re successful. If your management doesn’t like change, bring them the results of your test. It’ll be easier to convince them that you should adopt new technologies! 😉

Working remotely requires using technologies in the right way, but more than anything it requires a change of mindset: We must put more effort in how we communicate and make our interactions with others more assertive, encouraging, and positive to defeat the coldness of the channels. Do you have any questions or comments? We’d be happy to hear them!

As always, our team looks forward to doing great remote work with you!

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Anna currently lives in Zagreb, Croatia. She brings extensive experience working with distributed teams. She is a firm believer that enterprises are responsible for creating a better world and a better work environment. She recently discovered she is a super-recognizer.