Think about the last time you participated in a conference call with someone in another place. Did you encounter communication, technical or other problems? Have you found yourself trying to talk but you do not get to talk? If there were several people during this call, did you find that everyone could participate?
Remote meetings are becoming more and more common. Everyone you work with can not sit in the same room with you. For most of us, or members of the team from around the world are now present at most of our meetings
That's the trend we started seeing at HubSpot. As we expand globally, more and more meetings and teams are spread across our offices. It does not just mean waking up early or staying late to call colleagues in Sydney. It means learning to work with our colleagues in a completely different (and potentially difficult) way.
After talking with other companies employing a growing number of remote employees (including Zapier's CEO, Wade Foster), our marketing team decided to conduct a "Distance Week".
We had three goals for Remote Week:
Work more effectively as a highly distributed team and contribute to more effective collaboration between the different HubSpot geographic areas as a whole.
Cultivate empathy for full-time remote workers.
improve our communication with remote workers, and be at our best when working remotely.
And we had some rules:
Everyone in the team must be remote for the week. They could work from anywhere, but they could not be in a HubSpot office.
Everyone must have an Internet connection and be able to participate in meetings with video.
No one should postpone or postpone meetings . They must try all types of remote meetings: 1: 1, team meetings, cross-functional meetings, and so on.
After a week, we collected the comments of all the people who participated and we discovered common trends that will help us more effectively manage our employees remotely .
Distance Lessons of the Week
1. For larger meetings, you need a facilitator.
For larger-scale meetings, it can be difficult to make everyone's voice heard. Everyone is talking, there are parallel conversations between people in different places, and before you know it, the meeting is over and you have not had a chance to participate in the discussion.
This is where the facilitator of the team comes in. The work of the facilitator is twofold: 1) Make sure everyone has the opportunity to speak. 2) Acknowledge any secondary conversations to make sure that they are shared with the entire group.
To make sure everyone has the chance to speak, it's important to know when someone is trying to get a message across and continues to be overlooked. A good way to spot this is to ask the facilitator to monitor "the face of the goldfish": the face of someone who continues to open and close his mouth before he can say anything. By having a facilitator take a look at it and by encouraging participants to take turns speaking, the problem can be eliminated.
Another problem with large remote meetings is that of side conversations with people in the same place. For example, my team is split between Cambridge and Dublin. There are often parallel conversations between the Cambridge and Dublin teams by putting an end to the call to say something to their colleague sitting next to them.
An effective way to solve this problem is to have everyone go to a different room (even if they are in the same place) to give everyone an opportunity to express themselves. main discussion.
2. Take advantage of spontaneous discussions.
When you are physically in the same place as your colleagues, you have the opportunity to converse spontaneously throughout the day. That's a morning summary of the latest episode of Game of Thrones or a quick discussion to find the details of a problem that could not be solved by mail these unplanned face-to-face meetings bring us closer to our colleagues and help us discover new perspectives.
During our distant week, we knew we needed a way to recreate the beauty of these spontaneous conversations. In practice, it requires a little effort. This means that you must be open to a quick unplanned video call to answer a question or clarify the details of by email .
We are also great supporters of recording a quick video on Loom to communicate something when your team is not fully available for a live call. In fact, I woke up many Loom records from my team in Dublin to explain a detailed analysis or the latest experience that they wanted to perform.
Open and regular communication like this is essential to avoid communication errors and to make sure your team always feels like a unit even if they do not see each other face to face.
3. Find your ideal routine and stick to it.
In the morning, I get up, I shower, I dress, I walk my dog and I take the bus. I go to work, make my tea, read a little in the morning, answer emails and start my day. I have my routine from and I have another routine at the end of the day to conclude.
We are creatures of habit – having a clear routine gives us a structure and allows us to be productive. And this is doubly true for remote workers.
At the beginning of Remote Week, many of us found that our routine was over. We woke up and we did not know what to do next. Are we starting to respond to emails? Are we working on this next experience? Do we have breakfast? Do exercises? What do we do first? At the end of the day, we had the same problem. When do we stop working? Should we have dinner and return to work?
Even when you work remotely and do not have to enter the office at a certain time, it is still important to have a routine. Although it took us a few days to understand how to structure our time during Telemetry Week, we finally understood our individual rhythms to make sure that our work would go on without .
4. Stay visible on your team (even if you are not really visible).
If you are one of the only remote workers on your team, it can be easy to tackle your work and lose regular communications with the rest of the world. team. . Something that our team realized during Remote Week was finding a way to stay available and visible to our colleagues, even when we were not in direct contact.
There are several keys to staying on your team's radar, even when you're not in sight. One of them is participation in team meetings. When you are at a distance, it is extremely important to speak up and share your ideas in big discussions.
Another way to stay visible is to participate in chat group discussions. At HubSpot, we use Slack for our communications and we have cross-team channels dedicated to everything from work-related projects to extra-professional interests, such as yoga and dogs. It's easy not to participate in these discussions, but it's much more rewarding and useful to share your ideas, the last interesting article you've read, or even what you've done this weekend.
Although you can not be physically visible at the office, it's important to stay visible in the organization.
5. This sounds obvious, but you need a good WiFi network.
I saved the best and probably the most important for the end. It is essential to ensure that you have the right technology to do your job and keep in touch with your colleagues. This can be frustrating for all concerned if suddenly your computer freezes or your internet connection hangs and your call is disconnected. And you know it always happens when it's the least practical.
Before working remotely (even if only for one day), test the locations from which you plan to call. If you work from your home make sure you have a solid WiFi connection. Test it with a friend or colleague in advance to make sure that you will be able to do your job effectively and stay in touch with the necessary people.
If you think you can travel to another place during your remote work week, test it as well. I encourage my team to test the new coffee shops in which they wish to work in small clutter meetings, like the 1: 1 with their manager, instead of waiting for a larger meeting of the company. team. This reduces the risk of your technical difficulties impacting more people.
When preparing your configuration remotely, determine if you need other technologies than WiFi. Having a second home monitor, for example, can help increase your efficiency. Having a standing desk is another way to get around during the day.
Back to the office one week away
The distance week was a fantastic experience for the team. This gave us a unique opportunity to put ourselves in the shoes of our teammates and to understand the advantages and disadvantages of working from a distance.
Since that experience, we've learned to collaborate more with our remote counterparts, to ensure everyone has a voice in team meetings, and to be more flexible in video conversations with a team. distant colleague. The next time you interact with a remote colleague, remember these lessons to ensure you create a productive and collaborative environment for your team and colleagues, no matter where they work.
This article was originally published on HubSpot . It is reproduced with permission.