Tips for Building Strong Online Teamworkon 16 May 2018Posted by Sam Abrahams
Online collaboration tools have made it easier than ever to coordinate work between teams, regardless of where they’re located. That, however, hasn’t eliminated the need to create better teamwork. Just like people who work side by side in the same office, remote teams need to be nurtured so that misunderstandings are minimized and communication is improved. Find out the keys to making your teams more successful.
Remember They're People
Names on reports or project tracking software can start to seem like only name if there isn’t much other contact between members of your team. That’s why it is important to continue to keep in mind the fact that they are all people who may have different needs or expectations. Be sure to maintain contact and leave the lines of communication open.
Watch The Tone
When you’re communicating with the rest of your team, keep in mind that subtleties can easily be lost in email and other online communications. Short comments in person give many more clues thanks to the tone of voice and facial expressions. Those same comments in writing could be taken as concise, abrupt, sarcastic, or joking, depending on the person reading them. Make sure you are communicating clearly so that your intent isn’t misunderstood. The limitations of written comments are another reason to work to build good rapport within your team. Being familiar with other people’s personalities greatly reduces the chance of misunderstandings.
Find out more about the members of your team and provide the right environment for others to do the same. Discussions about weekends, vacations, and other personal moments gives everyone a chance to share and learn about each other. Asking other people questions also helps to make them feel valued.
Create Bonding Moments
Working inside an office, gatherings around the water cooler or coffee maker have been traditional times for co-workers to get to know each other better. If your team is made up of people who are located far apart, company picnics or other get togethers might not be an option. That leads you to the challenge of giving the members of your team other ways to form those connections.
Team-building moments could be an online chat group where your team can share their thoughts, pictures, or jokes. You could start a friendly competition so that team members can track and compare the steps they log each week on their fitness trackers. Any kind of shared interest could be the start of a way to improve your team’s connection.
Recognize Special Events
Birthdays, work anniversaries, and other special occasions are a great way for your team to come together. Celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah together are a wonderful reason for each member of your team to share thoughts. Online chats or team emails can allow everyone to share and recognize these special times together. Even a day of the week can be a good reason to reach out. Wish them all an amazing Friday or check in Monday morning to see how the weekend went for everyone.
Keep in mind that team milestones or accomplishments are important to honour and share. You might not all be able to gather in a break room to enjoy a cake after completing an important project for a client but that’s just an added reason to make sure the celebration still takes place. You can even look for ways you can all participate in a much-deserved party after your team acquires a new client or accomplishes something special. Why not have pizza delivered to everyone’s house so you can all enjoy together?
Keep The Grapevine
Your team might have ditched meetings in the same stuffy conference room or time waiting to use the office microwave. That doesn’t mean the need for the grapevine has ended. Normally we receive plenty of information about the company and projects through casual conversations in the workplace. There are often things that employees need to know that don’t rate official emailed announcements. At the same time, being left out of the loop for even small bits of news can leave your team members feeling underappreciated.
Make sure you use online tools to keep communication open so that everyone is notified when other employees are retiring, paid holidays are approaching, new clients have joined your company, or there are other things they should know. Simply adding a note in your online team chat site to let everyone know if a team member is out sick for the day or there is a project delay, can significantly reduce everyone’s chance of becoming frustrated. Filling in gaps like this will help to keep your team happy and working well together.
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