Staying a strong team despite different locations: how to do remote teamwork right!

Whether working from home or overseas, most teams nowadays work together remotely sooner or later. This means that the individual team members work together from different locations to achieve a common goal. As in our own team, this can be either 20 kilometers from the headquarters building or 9 hours away by plane.

The challenge remains the same: to form a strong team despite working remotely. In this blog post, we explore tools and tricks to help you work successfully with your team despite the distance.

Team arbeitet gemeinsam im Büro.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of remote teamwork?

When you think about working from home, different ideas come together: On the one hand, there is the comfort of your own four walls, and on the other, perhaps thoughts of loneliness or boredom. We see the following advantages and disadvantages of working together remotely:

+ More space for your own life

Remote collaboration makes it possible to better integrate the individual daily lives of team members. People can live and work in the location of their choice (particularly relevant for locations in different countries or cities) or carry out their duties at home in between.

Mann hat mehr Freizeit durch Remote Teamwork.

+ More vision through different perspectives

Having people in different locations also provides a deeper insight into other customer segments. Just as Cécile and Cornelia in the Yaasa team provide direct customer support for the Swiss, they can also feel and understand the market there. This also builds trust with customers and service providers if you are active where you also have a branch.

+ More time and energy

By eliminating commuting times, you don't get stuck in traffic jams or can get to work close to home. This reduces stress and leaves more energy for working together.

Frau dehnt sich im Stehen an einem höhenverstellbaren Tisch im Homeoffice.

All these positive aspects ensure that all team members feel more comfortable, which in turn means that everyone works more productively and achieves a better work-life balance. On the other hand, the challenges of working remotely in a team are less pleasant:

- Lack of a sense of belonging

It is not uncommon for teams in branch offices to be much smaller or even "one-man shows". The sense of belonging to the larger team is then often missing and can only really be experienced a few times a year. This makes it all the more important to involve remote colleagues in activities and discussions and to define common goals.

- Long communication channels

Despite advanced digitalization, it often takes longer to communicate with remote teammates. Brief questions across the desk are no longer possible, nor are spontaneous brainstorming sessions or sparkling ideas. A transparent and always up-to-date communication flow is therefore extremely important for remote teamwork.

6 tips for better remote collaboration

Advantages and disadvantages aside: with the right tools and guidelines, collaboration works much more efficiently. We have summarized our "tried and trusted" tips from our own team that make remote teamwork easier to manage:

1. use task tools

An important cornerstone of any collaboration, whether remote or on-site, is transparent communication. To ensure that everyone is and remains on the same page, it is advisable to use practical task tools.

All to-dos are entered into the program, e.g. "Asana", assigned and provided with deadlines. Assigned access means that the entire team can view the status of the tasks and is therefore always up to date.

Equally practical are programs that support creative or collaborative work: new ideas or optimizations can be noted or sketched online in real time. A great platform for this is "Miro", where mind maps can also be created.

If tools like these cannot be used by the team for various reasons, you should make an effort to consciously update team members, for example via team chats or emails.

Tools für gelungenes Remote Teamwork.

2. synchronize calendars

Teamwork means working together. This is only possible if you know when the respective team members are present and available. A synchronized calendar function is best suited for this. While meetings are often entered automatically via the email calendar, it's different for personal appointments.

As a team, make sure you enter your "out-of-office" days or vacations conscientiously and inform the team in the event of short-term absences so that collaboration can run smoothly.

3. deliberately avoid neglecting private matters and small talk

Socializing and spending time together is extremely important, especially when working remotely. What often happens on site during the coffee break escapes those who work further away.

Try to organize regular (virtual) get-togethers where it's not about work, or take enough time before meetings to talk a little about personal matters. Fun and casual messages in team chats can also be a good way to build team cohesion.

Socializing mittels Videocalls bei Remote Teamwork.

4. optimize infrastructure

Nothing is more annoying than a planned video call where everything goes wrong: no picture, poor internet connection, no sound. You immediately lose 10 minutes of valuable time until you have solved the problems.

It shows both respect and great teamwork if a functioning infrastructure for collaboration is ensured early enough. If you are organizing a meeting with video calls and screen sharing, you should take enough time to prepare everything in advance. Members joining the meeting should also check in advance whether their camera, microphone and headphones are working reliably.

Not only does this habit save time, it also gets the meeting off to a much more positive start and encourages team building.

5. be willing to compromise and be patient

Last but not least, remote collaboration sometimes means making compromises. Spontaneity is often lost and time is short. Working remotely often means making compromises and showing patience when calls take a little longer, more questions need to be asked or more e-mails need to be written.

6 Define and pursue common goals

A team is above all a team that pulls together. Shared overarching goals are extremely important to create a sense of togetherness. Every team member should know their role in the big picture and be able to see themselves as a valuable contribution to achieving the defined goals.

Regular, large-scale workshops to reflect on the achievement of goals are also a valuable team-building tool. This way, everyone in the team knows how the others are doing and a common denominator can be found from which to move forward.

Mitarbeitende arbeiten gemeinsam im Büro an ergonomischen Möbeln.

Conclusion: How do you ensure team cohesion despite working from home and other offices?

A strong team can also work together across different locations: The most important thing is to create a sense of community. If everyone in the team knows the goal and understands their role, you can get there together. Helpful tools for this are organizational programs, regular meetings and conversations, as well as extremely transparent communication. With a good dose of community spirit and motivation, nothing stands in the way of a strong remote team!