Teams can achieve much more than the sum of their parts. The productivity benefits of teams are substantial. This is the reason for coming together as an organization. However, many organizations are struggling to adapt to responsibility-sharing in the new normal. Here is a look at some of the best ways to share tasks across geographically distant teammates.
Diversity is great for businesses. A McKinsey research from 2015 concluded that ethnically diverse companies perform 35% better than their counterparts. Millions of migrant professionals live and work in the US. They regularly send money online to their families back in their home countries. The ideas and ideologies of ex-pat workers enrich US organizations. Morning, a human resource management news platform, stresses the need for respecting diversity in remote teams. Having diverse groups is beneficial because each team member can contribute with specialized skills and talents. Efficiently sharing responsibilities means that each individual gets to do what they are good at. This improves team performance and fosters individual growth. Global human capital software giant Ceridian suggests that remote employees should overcome subconscious biases. Embracing diversity is good for both employees and employers. One way to do this is by respecting the holidays and greeting the customs of other cultures.
Jacob Morgan, author of ‘The Employee Experience Advantage,’ explains how understanding and learning from different cultures forms a key part of diversity. Working in a diverse team is an opportunity to view things from many perspectives. Morgan believes this stimulates creativity in teams and enhances individual performances.
Working from home has become mainstream. Many organizations have reduced weekly working hours for employees. Professor of Management at University of California Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, Jennifer Chatman, argues that “Employees are in a position where they are calling more of the shots than they did before. That has shifted the power balance a little bit.” When delegating to subordinates and peers, one must keep in mind that the tasks must not feel like a waste of time.
The Wall Street Journal suggests re-evaluating the mundane, everyday tasks. Team leaders and managers must reduce or eliminate non-essential and repetitive tasks. Prioritize and delegate only the critical tasks. This can prevent symptoms of ‘burnout.’ Working on important things also keeps employees invested in team goals. Professor of Sociology at Indiana University, Dr. Jessica Calarco, recommends “prioritizing tasks that advance a company’s core mission while doing away with reports or projects being done simply for tracking purposes.”
Clear and efficient communication is more important than ever. One cannot have the inbox cluttered with a mix of personal and promotional messages. This creates the risk of important work-related messages being lost or overlooked. The Economist recommends that remote employees must use work-appropriate channels for communication. For example, a firm may use Google Meet or Zoom to conduct official meetings while using Slack or Microsoft Teams for non-essential communications. Segregating the channels by communication type immediately makes a difference.
Many organizations are now opting for a separate channel for ‘water cooler’ talks. Forbes suggests creating a separate channel on Slack for virtual water-cooler discussions. Team members can hang out here during breaks and engage in banter like they would in a real office. The Economist floats the idea of using Twitter as a ‘virtual water cooler.’ However, it cautions against posting inappropriate content. Twitter is a public platform, after all.
Team members are often separated not just by distance but also by time zones. A remote team spread across different time zones has the unique opportunity to work round the clock. We must do our best to accommodate others. Fortune Magazine advises against scheduling a meeting when a simple email would suffice. CEO of SPD (Software Platform for Developers) Load Maksym Babych recommends considering the time zones, purpose, and a reasonable response time when communicating with remote team members.
Forbes recommends recording all virtual meetings. This allows team members who missed a session to update themselves. Thoughtful actions such as this can really help teams work together.
Reduce affinity distance
Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Professor of Business Psychology in University College, London, and an associate at Harvard’s Entrepreneurial Finance Lab, explains the 3 kinds of distance in remote collaboration. There is the physical distance where employees are separated by place and time. Then there is the ‘operational distance’ where teams are separated by sizes, bandwidth, and skill levels. Finally, there is “affinity distance,” which involves values, trust, and interdependencies.
Reduce the “affinity distance” to boost team performance. Team members must value one another’s inputs. They should have trust amongst themselves. One way to reduce the “affinity distance” is by actively participating in virtual team-building rituals. This can have a positive impact on shared responsibilities.
Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.