Fifth and latest post in The Ultimate Guide to Working Remotely: The Series.
Connecting remotely at a personal level
Working remotely is not working alone
Not being present in a physical work environment does not allow a member of the team to stop communicating actively with his colleagues. On the contrary one must ensure that all others know what he’s working on at all times, provides consistent status updates and helps the project manager track his or her progress.
Frequent video calls between team members
Video calls are closer to a physical interaction than emails or simple voice calls. Using video adds a personal touch and helps at better understanding each other. One on one video calls are possible via Skype and for more participants solutions like Dimdim or WebEx can be used. At least the weekly team meeting must have video, as well as most of the one on one Skype calls.
Meeting at the beginning of the project in person
While not possible for all teams, meeting at the beginning in person offers a boost hard to replicate otherwise. It is easier to agree on responsibilities and see each other’s communication and work style in such an environment, but it can as well take place later in the project. Many distributed teams meet in person at least once a year for this reasons.
All meetings are well documented with clear agenda and meeting notes
While a remote meeting has less human interaction this can be overcome by better managing the meeting process. Setting the agenda and sending back and forth some emails to clarify what is to be discussed will help set the focus better when the actual meeting takes place. A team member, taking the role of the meeting facilitator, will keep meeting notes and will ensure the agenda is followed and the meeting stays on time.