Shifting Workspaces: Learning to Work with Remote Teams

Deep Kalina • 3 weeks ago

When you’re looking for a digital product agency, it may be difficult to find one that doesn’t have employees spread to the four winds.

Remote work was definitely a thing before COVID hit the world, but there’s no doubt that the pandemic spread the idea of remote work and accelerated its adoption by a variety of companies big and small alike.

As the world returns to the new normal, business leaders are grappling with how to proceed:

  • Should employees be forced back into the office?
  • Should they be allowed to continue working in their sweatpants at home?
  • Should the company adopt a hybrid model? 
  • Are the intangible values of colocation really greater than the cost savings and higher morale of remote work?

At Intuitio Labs, we are a digital product agency for startups. We wouldn’t be able to function without our remote workers. We believe leaning into the new reality helps us serve our customers better than the traditional model. It also saves our clients money.

Admittedly, there are challenges when working with far-off employees. When people are in different time zones, allowances must be made so communication is smooth for everyone involved.

In addition, some managers could be in their offices wondering if people at home are actually doing the jobs assigned to them.

At Intuitio Labs, we answer the second concern by judging how well our employees provide digital product design for startups:

  • Does it serve the client’s needs?
  • Did it come in on deadline and on budget?
  • Does it represent what we do as a company?
  • Is it fantastic?

As for the communication issue, a flexible and asynchronous approach to working helps employees to be happy and creative. It’s not a chore to implement new ways of staying in touch and saying, “So long,” to the traditional 9-5 schedule.

Life has always been about change. It’s the one constant, as they say. But it seems like everything’s moving exponentially faster these days than it did for our ancestors.

The move to remote work is a relatively new way of approaching business, but even in these early days, methods have been identified to make the transition easier for employees and employers.

Table of Contents:

Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Digital product agency
Digital product agency

If you’re a leader who is determined to make remote work successful at your company, that’s more than half the battle won right there. It means you’re willing to look for answers to the real issues that can make telecommuting difficult:

  • poor communication
  • ignorance of company culture 
  • no progress tracking
  • lack of transparency  
  • scheduling overheads
  • low productivity
  • no live get-togethers

As a leader, rather than a boss, your ability to set expectations for employees can have a major effect. It’s important to track company progress and broadcast that information, so your people understand how the parts they play impact the company as a whole.

And when milestones and major deadlines are met or exceeded, be sure to celebrate successes along the way. Morale always matters.

None of that helps if you don’t first solve the communication issue. The website, greatplacetowork.com, identifies six strategies to encourage better communication with remote teams:

  1. Show empathy: Remember that everyone’s human and there will be a learning curve.
  2. Say, “Good morning”: A friendly greeting and quick chat can help remote workers feel more connected to the company.
  3. Convert in-person meetings to video: Everyone will have access to the meeting and will be included.
  4. Create a virtual “water cooler”: Provide your employees with a venue, like a message board, where they can discuss non-work topics.
  5. Use internal messaging tools: Conversations that usually happen in person can happen with a messaging app.
  6. Inject fun into the workplace: Why not use a vacation picture as your backdrop for a video meeting? It encourages connections with your staff.   

Collaborating with a Digital Product Agency

When engaged in digital product design for startups, teams have to work together even if they’re miles apart from each other. It’s an issue for any company that tries to do creative work while relying on remote teams to collaborate. 

As with any skill, employees and managers must put in the effort to develop their collaborative skills.

According to the Harvard Business Review, there are three kinds of distance:

  • Physical (place and time)
  • Operational (team size, bandwidth, and skill levels)
  • Affinity (values, trust, and interdependency)  

For remote workers, it’s important that steps are taken to reduce the affinity distance. Video calls help because they’re more personal than emails or voice calls. Other steps include: 

  • Remember that brief communications aren’t always clear.
  • Don’t fill your team’s inbox with messages.
  • Realize that some employees are more comfortable expressing themselves in writing than by speaking.

Working Effectively with Offshore Design and Development Teams

Digital product design for startups
Digital product design for startups

At Intuitio Labs, we have teams working around the globe, including the technology hotspot of India, who are working on digital product design for startups.

An offshore team is a remote team, but there are specific challenges. Potential time and language barriers can complicate collaborations, but there are best practices for working with an offshore team:

  • Schedule meetings at times convenient for both local and offshore teams.
  • Ensure offshore developers have access to the proper tools.
  • Take cultural differences into consideration.
  • Trust offshore developers to meet deadlines and provide quality work.
  • Encourage collaboration.
  • Foster an inclusive culture.

When you’re reaching across thousands of miles to find team members, remember that they are part of the team. That might sound simplistic, but “team” is an important concept in the modern business world.

A good leader wants employees who will invest in the company. The surest way to achieve that is to invest in your employees.

If you look at the list of best practices again, you’ll find only one or two suggestions that wouldn’t apply to people working in your brick-and-mortar office:

  • You want everyone to feel included.
  • You want to make sure they have the tools they need.
  • You want them to collaborate with their co-workers.

If you’re going to put in the effort to reach across oceans and continents to find good people, it stands to reason that you want those workers to feel welcome and empowered. 

Building a Culture

You had a dream to build a business. You came up with a product or a service that you believed was going to fill a need for people in the marketplace. 

Or you joined an established digital product agency and worked your way into a leadership position. You see a way forward for the company, and you’re determined to get there.

In either case, you will need people who are committed to your vision and want to help you make it a reality. 

How do you find people who will pick up the oars and row in the direction you point?

In this post-pandemic world, the answer more and more often is going to be that those workers are at home. Thanks to advances in technology, those potential employees can apply their skills to companies that are hundreds or even thousands of miles away.

Leaders who want to take advantage of this relatively new type of workforce need to follow proven guidelines and make the arrangements work. By being inclusive and showing your commitment, you encourage remote workers to commit to:

  • your vision
  • your company
  • your customers       

To learn about Inuitio Labs and our approach to digital product design for startups, visit www.intuitiolabs.com.