As consultants, we don’t usually work at the same physical location as our clients. This requires us to strengthen our team communication and collaboration to effectively fulfill the project’s goals. In the beginning it is important to gain knowledge of the clients’ processes and their work culture as it allows us to understand their DNA and reinforce their trust towards us. Meeting our clients as well as having the opportunity to have all team members together (face to face) at least once will benefit the team´s dynamic.  

Communication

Working remotely from the client, and with team members in different geographical locations, demands us to implement specific communication schemes and channels. Being in touch is crucial. By this I mean always participating in the meetings where you are required, as well as being reachable through chat and phone. 

I encourage reaching out to others in and outside the team directly. This will help to create a transparent environment and eliminate any hierarchical barrier. In the end, we are all part of the same team, working for the same objective. 

Use instant messaging when an answer is needed to move forward/complete your work. At least once per day, video calls help maintain the empathy between the team and client. Chat rooms are beneficial to keep the whole team informed when the information concerns everyone. It is also important for team leaders to have one-on-one communication with the rest of the team members sharing frequent feedback.  

Collaboration

Working as a distributed team means collaboration is crucial for success. Working together towards the same goal does not require being side by side at the same office. It means sharing expertise and knowledge to make things better. A perfect example of this is virtual brainstorming sessions. Working with people with different perspectives will bring to the table creative ways of solving a problem. By working collaboratively, team members will learn other skill sets which will help everyone’s development.

Having a communal place to store/share documentation will help the team to find old info and save new data. This will also benefit interactive work among team members while they are working from separate locations and even timezones. Effective collaboration helps to build bonds and trust. Setting up clear expectations will allow the team to create a clear path that will lead them to accomplish the goal.  

The Challenge

When leading a remote team, there are several challenges to overcome. One of these difficulties is creating the right environment. For team members to reach their full potential, leaders need to help build the right atmosphere. Teams thrive when there is openness and trust. If we want accessible and participative teams, the style of leadership needs to reflect this from the top down. 

By Maria Ahumada

Scrum Master MAS Global Consulting