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Is Your Team Ready for Remote Collaboration?

Katherine Luo
Katherine Luo
Jul 21, 2021 - 3 min read
Is Your Team Ready for Remote Collaboration?

Article written by Rilynn Jefferson solely for

Remote work isn't a new concept, but the pandemic has made the remote work model more widespread. According to an Upwork study, 36.2 million Americans will be working remotely by 2025 – an 87% increase from pre-pandemic figures.

“As businesses adapt and learn from this remote work experiment, many are altering their long-term plans to accommodate this way of working,” says Upwork chief economist Adam Ozimek in a CNBC report. Interestingly, the same analysis also found that the vast majority of companies are adapting and responding positively to remote work .

Most businesses are primed to succeed in the new digital work environment. That being said, the transition to remote work can still pose some challenges. Here are a few things to consider when going fully or partially remote.

Hybrid Teams VS Remote Teams

First, it’s important to identify which type of remote team you have so you can tailor-fit your strategy. Hybrid teams can be a combination of onsite and remote workers or workers who have alternating in-office workdays and telecommute days. Remote teams, on the other hand, are completely made up of out-of-office workers.

This distinction will dictate whether you need a remote-first or office-first approach. The key difference between both is the team's communication method; the remote-first approach requires a medium for all communication, whereas office-first doesn’t. As mentioned in a previous Pesto post, hybrid teams with alternating in-office and remote workdays can still retain an office-first approach by allocating telecommute days as non-collaborative workdays. Any company with full-time remote employees, however, should always take on a remote-first approach to be more inclusive.

What You Need for Remote Collaboration

For both approaches, you’ll need to prepare for remote collaboration, albeit in varying degrees. There are some adjustments you need to make to ensure success:

Rethink Team Structures

The traditional team structure may not work for remote collaboration. A McKinsey study found that agile teams transitioned to remote collaboration more smoothly while non-agile ones struggled. They define agile teams as those made up of eight people with different skill levels and disciplines; these teams are autonomous and self-motivated. Additionally, agile team members are deliberately chosen based on their interpersonal dynamics, allowing the team to evolve as needed.

This cross-disciplinary collaboration leads to increased productivity. A great example of this is Spotify. During the development of their year-end listening analysis feature, Spotify Wrapped, they brought together a diverse team of developers, artists, data specialists, and interns. The unique strengths of each team member contributed to the feature’s final form, which became a viral hit on social media. In most cases, interdisciplinary teams result in more creative and unique solutions.

Prioritize Regular Communication

There are four key areas that guide and lead a team to success: goals, roles, resources, and processes. Even for co-located teams, it can be difficult to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding these four aspects. For distributed teams, these may become more muddled, which is why it's important to regularly check-in with the team.

Tsedal Neeley, a professor at Harvard Business School, states that this can be remedied through regular alignment sessions. Neeley suggests having one alignment session at the beginning or launch of each project followed by successive reorienting sessions. These subsequent meetings would be periodic appraisals on how the team is faring concerning the four key areas mentioned above. She suggests having these meetings every six to eight weeks to cover the changing dynamics and needs of remote teams.

Maximize Available Technology

In today’s heavily digitized work environment, teams need to utilize technologies to support their workflow. Dustin York is the current associate professor and director of communications programs at Maryville University, and is particularly well versed in this area. In an interview with InformationWeek, he highlights how important it is for leaders to implement new technologies ahead of the competition. York points to Eastman Kodak as a cautionary tale, as Kodak hid their digital picture technology, fearing it would destroy their analog business, and ended up obsolete as competitors moved into the space. This decision ultimately led to Kodak’s demise.

This is no time to shy away from new technology, particularly those that can help promote better communication and collaboration. The remote work model is new for most companies, and, as such, calls for new solutions. One such solution is Pesto’s virtual communication platform that allows remote teams to collaborate over audio, text, and video – all with just one click. For teams with members in different locations, and even different time zones, Pesto keeps them connected.

Knowing which approach to take and making the right adjustments to your strategy are crucial. Whether your team is ready for remote collaboration or not all depends on what you do next.

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Katherine Luo
Katherine Luo
Jul 19, 2021 - 1 min read