by Chuck Chapman, Content Strategy Coordinator
The more things change, the more things stay the same. While technology changes rapidly and the work world becomes increasingly remote, the needs people have to be productive and successful team members have largely stayed the same. And even though project teams might be scattered across the globe, it’s still the job of the leader to make sure the team has those tools.
Successful teams need three basic things: communication, collaboration and production. If you as a leader can provide the necessary hardware to allow these three to happen, you’ll be presiding over a successful team.
Let’s see how these principles apply in the remote work world.
Your team is neither a one-person show, nor is it a collection of disjointed individuals all doing their own thing. Because of that, your team need to be able to communicate. In the “bricks and sticks” office world, that may have meant phone systems, interoffice mail, or office design that made face to face communication easy and efficient.
With team members in different states or even different countries, that means having the right tools for them to communicate as effectively as they would if they shared the same physical space. Fortunately, there are many such tools, many completely free, that will connect your team members virtually.
The obvious solution is Google Docs/Drive. Google has created all the functionality of the Microsoft Office Suite with the added features of having documents, spreadsheets, slide presentations, etc. that are highly shareable and open for collaboration. And since it’s all cloud-based, it helps address one of the biggest challenges many office-based teams have: server space.
While Google certainly has all the tools your team will need to collaborate on working documents, there’s still the ongoing collaborative creative work that goes on to create those documents and final products. In the “bricks and sticks” world, these collaborative sessions take place in conference rooms and other set aside space where groups can congregate and share ideas.
The virtual world offers a number of solutions like Slack, Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Google Hangouts to name a few. Depending on the size of your remote teams and what their needs are, you can create a collaborative atmosphere where participants can see each other as well as share documents and screens. Because of the development of these virtual collaboration tools, team members can share everything they could in a traditional office setting (except for that pastrami sandwich at lunch).
Of course all of this communication and collaboration is for a purpose: to produce something of value. Most remote teams aren’t in businesses where the goal is producing “hard goods.” That’s still best done in an on-site manufacturing setting. Remote project teams are generally more on the creative and analytic side, producing “products” that are either conceptual or digital in nature.
The biggest concern for the virtual leader is to be able to track progress toward the production goal. To do that, several outstanding project management platforms exist to help. They can help team members track the status of project components, time spent, and allow for internal communication.
While the tools may be changing rapidly, the principles behind successful and productive project teams haven’t changed much at all. The successful remote project leader must stay informed in order to best utilize the technology solution that fits the team.
If you’re transitioning from the “old world” into the role of a remote leader, we’d like to offer you this free resource, Leading Remotely: What’s Changed and What Hasn’t. This can help you understand what you already know and what you still need to learn to be successful.