In the last post we talked about the benefits of teleworking, but we must not forget the difficulties that arise when you are not physically present with your people every morning. Here are the telework challenges we have faced at i2U.
When working in a remote team, there is a tendency to postpone the more complex tasks, leaving for “when we get together” physically or virtually, all those issues that require extra effort to achieve.
As a consequence, the next meetings of the team, which in principle should be to contrast the work done and to plan the next steps, turn into brainstorming on issues that should be solved beforehand.
The technical capacity of the leader and the fluid communication between him/her and all the team members is fundamental, in this way, he/she can keep the pulse of all the aspects of the project and give specific guidelines in those cases where one of the members encounters complex challenges.
The team leader has to adapt the development phases and specific tasks to the capabilities of the team members, and must not only take into account technical skills, but must also include the personal variable of each individual, his or her specific life moments.
Digital tools saturation
For more than 15 years there have been remote team management tools, whether for videoconferencing, file sharing, software version control, task goals, calendars, and anything else you can think of. The problem is that there are so many that we usually focus on learning how to get the most out of each one from a technical point of view, and that makes us lose focus of the most important thing: why do we need them?
We must reflect on the real needs we have and focus our efforts and resources on mastering only the functionalities of the tool that solve those needs. The transition from face-to-face to remote work generates enough uncertainty for us to add the deep learning of a new IT system and a new management methodology.
The coldness of messaging
The instant messaging tools Slack, Whatsap, etc., are very effective and above all, comfortable, however, we are migrating from a working method where we talk face to face with colleagues, where not only what is said is interpreted, but also, and this is very important, how it is said. Transforming that culture of communication will take time, in the meantime we have to rely on video conferencing, with the camera on, that conveys closeness and trust while demanding a proactive attitude from each member of the team.
The inability of headphones
Face-to-face meetings, especially when they are of a creative nature, tend to be chaotic, enthusiasm dominates the atmosphere and the language, a bang on the table can mean “I totally agree” or “what a load of crap you are saying”, at the end the dialogue is stepped on, sentences are repeated to make it sound like a sentence, and so on and so forth.
The algorithms that decode the audio and video and the streaming systems on which we rely to hold teleconferences cannot withstand so much clamour, so much euphoria. It is important to establish rules of behaviour so that the teleconferences are viable, so that we can understand each other and move forward by closing each point. It is essential to work with the team on these rules and be rigorous in complying with them.
Loss of the flag
It is important not to cross the fine line between remote team management and team decentralisation, and the basis for this not to happen is to keep that common culture active that makes you stand up for the flag.
Transparency is key to having involved and autonomous teams. An organisation by projects is key, it is essential to give value to the achievement of each partial objective, and that each and every member of the team knows where the ship is heading.
Absolutely all objectives, working times and communication are open and accessible to the whole team. This generates trust, responsibility and autonomy in equal measure. We must all lead by example, from the first to the last, nothing is hidden, of course, trying not to cause infoxication. Now more than ever, it is essential to dedicate resources to personal growth, to demonstrate, with facts, how important each member is for us all to function, we have to take off the suit of boss or “false” leader, we have to push at the front, fight in the trenches and encourage in the rear.