With the rise of the gig economy and homeworking it’s important to help people working in remote teams to feel connected. If they aren’t aligned to your shared mission and purpose productivity, morale is in danger of dipping.
It’s not easy to keep a dispersed team feeling connected and engaged, so many managers are looking to solve this growing challenge.
The challenge for remote teams with existing forms of communication
We know email isn’t always the best communication tool for keeping people in touch with each other. It’s easy to trigger misunderstandings and the size of most inboxes mean people don’t read or miss messages.
There’s some brilliant productivity apps and tools out there. From Slack and Basecamp to Google Drive and Teamwork, they all help us work efficiently regardless of location. These are usually project or task-based.
Web conferencing tools are a staple of remote teams/remote working and are great for smaller single-purpose meetings or a webinar session. However, many organisations haven’t invested in specialist network infrastructure to support video conferencing. Because of this, calls are prone to audio dropouts which can lead to missed sentences and friction. In larger meetings, people can find it difficult to share their voice.
Prof Robert E Kelly had unexpected viral fame in 2017 when his children crashed his live TV interview to the amusement of millions of people who later watched the clip.
If employees find themselves working at home they may not have a suitable space for their laptop camera. In fact, home-working often doesn’t lend itself well to real-time events. Whether it’s the kids or the dog, an unexpected appearance can create a potentially uncomfortable experience as famously shown by Professor Robert E Kelly in 2017.
So, if you don’t want to go viral on social media and are looking for tools to help remote teams connect and learn with each other, what can you do?
Asynchronous video tools to support remote working
Using video tools to record short clips using our mobile phones is a safe way of retaining essential face-to-face communications and messages. We’re not tied to one location, so it’s possible to reflect and share a message from the comfort of our home, car or even in the park.
Sharing a video message that’s not real-time enables people to watch it over and over. This is particularly valuable if you’re covering a complex topic or sharing detailed information. It means we get to share facial expressions, tone of voice, and gestures in an authentic way just as if we were sharing the same space.
How can you use video to maintain engagement and learning?
So, before your team starts to experience that ‘dip’, develop processes to maintain face-to-face personal interactions with video. Here’s some tips for using video storytelling to create new opportunities for remote workers:
1. The asynchronous scrum
Whilst running a scrum in the office is straightforward, if your team is distributed across different time zones it can be tricky. Using a simple structured framework to record personal videos allows your team to share their daily tasks and challenges at a time and place that suits.
2. Project manager sponsorship
Help line managers to share critical sponsorship messages and updates that keep projects running without interrupting your team’s flow.
3. Sharing tips and updates
Don’t let distributed working get in the way of sharing good practice. Use personal videos to enable your team to share experiences, tips and breakthrough methods just as they would in the workplace.
4. Be open about challenges
Remote working can be hard, and it’s important for the team to be honest about the challenges they’re facing. Create an open forum for people to share challenges, so colleagues can offer support and solutions.
5. Daily or weekly wraps:
When you’re working remotely it’s easy to feel that not much has been achieved. Sharing what’s been achieved can help people reflect on successes and highlight challenges that may need to be supported.
6. Celebrate success
Ask your team to share how they contributed to a successful project on video or a quarter’s KPIs. Give your people permission to get creative and unleash their inner songwriter, poet, rapper or comedian.
7. Contribute to a story
Use personal video as part of a team building exercise. Plan out a big story arc and give people parts to contribute. You could unpack the customer journey or explore how key processes work in your team.
8. Stakeholder messages
If an unexpected event has forced your team to work remotely then it’s important your leadership stay close. A simple process and structure to help them share regular messages or perspectives will help keep your people focussed on the big picture. It’s tough to feel part of a team when working in isolation, so make sure everyone feels part of the story and reminded that their contributions play a big role in that
9. Sharing problems
If people are struggling then don’t be afraid of confronting the big issues head on. Personal video gives people the space to share complex and emotional experiences in a safe space. This sense of community and friendly face is tough to replicate with the written word.
10. Recognise your people
Call out your people who are doing great work. In the workplace these ‘thank you’ interactions are more common but remote working can leave a big reward void. Seeing your manager’s smiling face saying ‘well done’ can make all the difference when people are struggling to adapt to homeworking.
Here’s an example: StoryTagger founder Carl Hodler shared 25 sales tips with our team before the Learning Technologies conference.
You could ask your team to record these videos on their phones, but you might see long videos and people straying off point or struggling to contribute.
Tools like StoryTagger provide your people with the structure they need to confidently reflect on and record work experiences. With no complex file transfers or editing, it’s simple to build reflection and video creation into the flow of work for remote teams.