Redefining Teamwork in an Increasingly Remote World
Teamwork is a simple concept. Workplaces are full of “teams”, working together to create an amazing product, service, or idea. However, this simple concept is starting to become a little bit more complex. No longer are workplaces “traditional”. Many companies now have remote positions where team members are spread out and located all around the world. Some team members may never meet face to face. So, what does that mean for the future of teamwork?
Building Effective Teams
First, maybe we should define what makes a team successful. Google spent two years studying 180 teams to see why some succeed while others fail. According to Google, highly successful teams need these five characteristics: dependability, structure and clarity, meaning, impact, and psychological safety.
So, to be an effective team, members need to be able to rely on each other to get things done and meet expectations. They also need to have clearly defined goals and roles within the group. However, an important and possibly overlooked concept is that of meaning. The work needs to have meaning. If the work does not have some significance to each team member, there will be struggles. The group needs to feel like they are making a difference and their work will have an impact.
Can Remote Teams be Cohesive?
Innovation, communication, and flexibility will be the foundation of the future of teamwork. It is possible to work together, without ever knowing each other. It is possible to communicate every conversation electronically, without ever being face to face. It is possible for every employee to work an opposite schedule, but still complete their responsibilities effectively and timely. However, the most important aspect of successful teamwork is psychological safety. The team with members who feel comfortable being themselves within the team dynamic—free to express themselves without criticism—is the future of effective teamwork. Is this possible in the remote world? We build relationships on social media, so we should be able to build rapport within remote teams just as easily.
In the future, employees will view teamwork as more of a collaborative, brain-storming session where all suggestions are welcomed—bringing out the best in each other. As team members take off their “work-face” and start to get real with each other, finding common ground and building rapport, members will start to build personal connections, break down barriers, and start meaningful conversations. Teamwork, although changing, will remain key in ensuring that a company is focused and productive. The future of teamwork will continue to evolve as our technology in the workplace continues to evolve, but the bottom line will remain the same: communication and collaboration is key.
Technology will continue to evolve to meet the needs and demands of remote workers. To keep teams connected there are team chat apps, video call and screen sharing programs, and tools to help team members stay connected to customers. There are time zone apps to help teams collaborate anywhere in the world across time zones.
Productivity websites with project management tools help teams stay on track and communicate with other members. At a glance, teams can see what needs to be done, who is working on what, what is coming up, and what is completed. Driving down to the very detail of a task, these tools can track cost, time spent, messages, and files all associated with individual tasks on a project.
Remote employee training will continue to be an effective way to keep teams up to date on new skills and help team members advance in their careers. The ease of online training, helps employees become more effective and productive team members.