After working on a remote team for over 2 years, I've gained some insights about what it takes to communicate well without being in an actual office together. My role at this startup ranged from web development to operations management where I was involved in a variety of projects. I've also collaborated remotely with other developers working on some code and even general support as we are improving our skills.
In just about any project, focusing on creating shared documentation is at the heart of making this work well. After reflecting on these remote work experiences, I've noticed a few key components that have helped make communication smoother. These 5 tips are useful if you are working with a partner, a group of students working on a project, or a business setting.
Create a Detailed Plan with Specific Tasks
When working on a project together, there needs to be a clear roadmap as an overview of the project. Some questions to ask at the beginning are:
- What are the goals of this project?
- What is the scope and top priority features?
- What problems does this project solve?
Once these elements have been established, then you can create specific tasks and who should be assigned to each one.
Track Tasks and Deadlines Efficiently
Once specific tasks have been identified and assigned to team members, organize them in a way where they can be tracked. Using tools such as Asana, Trello, or Notion are good ways to accomplish this. Each task should be clearly outlined with details and who is assigned to each task. Keep deadlines realistic and revise them when needed. Make this information available to all team members to help avoid misunderstandings and in case a task needs to be assigned to someone else in the future.
Schedule Regular Check-Ins Meetings
Once these tasks have been established, set up regular meetings to check-in regarding progress made. These meetings should have an agenda and timeframe. Figure out a good meeting routine by establishing a set of questions such as:
- What's working?
- Any roadblocks?
- Do you need help with anything?
- What are the next actionable tasks?
Take Meeting Notes and Make Them Accessible to Team Members
Have a record of each meeting to keep track of any decisions made and what is expected for the next meeting. Any team member can refer back to the notes at any time to get clarification.
Keep Flexible, Open Communication
Think about ways to incorporate casual interactions between team members. Are there a few minutes before the start of a meeting to chat about fun topics or mention something new and exciting? You could also have a virtual happy hour once a month to have time to get to know each other better and build rapport.
Improving communication can take time. There are many tools that can help you stay organized to work at a steady pace to complete a project. In most of my remote work, I used Google Docs, Google Sheets, Trello, and Asana. I have recently discovered Notion which has become my favorite tool this year. Notion is powerful because you can manage tasks, notes, calendars, and so much more all in one workspace. I created a simple Notion template as an example of a shared document that can serve as a source of truth for a particular project. You can duplicate this template and customize it for your specific needs. Let me know if you have any questions about the template or how to use Notion for your next project plan.
Have any of these tips worked well for you before while working remotely with others? Are you also a fan of Notion? Add a comment to let me know.