Creating Connected Distributed Teams

Distributed teams – where everybody doesn’t work together in the same office all the time – are a growing trend, and causes some interesting challenges for leaders and team members alike.

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Key concepts:

1. Show Yourself

People connect with people as people first, and then with their brains! We want to build rapport, and that comes from a personal connection first, and then a professional connection. But it’s easy to forget/neglect this with distributed teams because:

  • It takes an effort to share personal things in many remote channels
  • You hold back because you don’t know how it’s being received at the other end
  • Telecommuters become used to being efficient in their communication

2. Use Video

Our world is highly visual, and we make connections through visual communication. With distributed teams, this takes a conscious effort because:

  • It’s easy to believe visual communication isn’t essential
  • It’s less convenient for telecommuters to use video
  • It isn’t a habit in most workplaces

3. Break Down Us vs Them Mentality

There can sometimes be a feeling that telecommuters are not really part of the team, because they are seen as either too privileged (being able to work from home) or too peripheral (not full team members). Similarly, two remote teams might each be quite cohesive, but might not be so chummy with the other team.

To get the best out of everybody, aim to treat them all as equals, regardless of their workplace.

4. Align Personal and Professional Goals

Telecommuters are often treated as just “doers”, and are excluded from higher­level things like planning, goal­setting and strategy. This isn’t usually deliberate, but can make them
feel like outsiders.

5. Meet In Person

Finally, if you can find or create in­person opportunities, do so. This isn’t essential but can be very useful.

What Next?

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