7 Ingredients for Teams that Enable Exceptional Remote Work (Part 1)

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female employee engaged in webcam conversation with coworkers

When teams work remotely, it requires enhanced skills in communication, setting boundaries and clarifying of assumptions. What is not clear or visible can become a challenge or pitfall for a remote team. Jennifer Britton of Remote Pathways has identified seven ingredients for teams that enable exceptional remote work in her  Remote Working Whitepaper (pdf). In this initial post of a 2-part article, I share her tips…  

What ingredients enable exceptional remote work? I like to call these the 7Cs which anchor exceptional remote work – Communication, Connection, Clarity, Culture, Consistency, Community, and Collaboration.

Communication is likely to take place along different channels, and at different times of day. The communication realm of the remote space may include phone, text, instant messaging, email, video streaming calls, and messaging across multiple platforms.

The challenge with communication is that it often has no context - we don’t see “what’s beyond the screen.” Many times, we don’t have the visual cues that tend to make up the majority of regular communication messages. 

On top of that, we have our own individual preferences to communication. As a Gen Xer, I may prefer to have communication bundled and emailed to me, rather than up in the cloud.

Taking time to understand each team member’s focus and preferences is critical to remote work. Conflict may emerge for a variety of factors including different styles, lack of clarity, misunderstanding or interpreting instructions differently.

Connection with others helps remote work and includes connection to others inside and outside the team and understanding their work. Remote team members are likely to be part of matrix relationships, where they report to, and are part of, multiple teams. 

Matrix relationships offer another layer of complexity and opportunity in this work. Connection also means understanding how our work fits into the bigger picture, as well as fits into the bigger context of others’ work.

Given the isolated nature of remote work, proactively focusing on connection is important. What can you do to create more connection across the team? Beyond the team?

Beyond community, how are we connected? What are the process pieces which help us do our best work? What type of communication exists? What helps bring people together on a regular basis both formally, and informally? Across a team and between teams?

Next time, we’ll continue exploring the 7Cs beginning with Clarity. 

Blair Wagner, Organizational Change Manager 
UHR coaching tips to share 
 

This is the fourth in a series on working remotely, based on content from Jennifer Britton of Remote Pathways. For your convenience, view the firstsecond and third blog posts. Any feedback that you have on this post, posts in this series, or thoughts in general can be sent to hr-oe-blog@uiowa.edu. Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts and reading!