On the surface, working from home seems to be the dream. If you manage to successfully block out all the distractions around and have an unwavering focus, then working from the comforts and safety of your home prove to be a cakewalk. While on an individual level, one can work on finding ways to adapt to this now necessary working method (in light of the COVID-19 pandemic around the globe), managing remote teams poses an entirely different set of challenges.  

During these times of social distancing, it becomes easy to lose the connection and relationship one has with their peers, coworkers, team members and managers. Today, most of the interactions we have with the ones in our professional life is limited to work related topics and COVID-19 fears; invariably leading to disruptions in existing team dynamics. Making efforts to ensure that the relationships in the team stays as normal as possible has become that much more important, not only to ensure that productivity remains unaffected but also to maintain the morale and psychological health of working individuals.

Be Accessible:
One of the major advantages of the whole team working physically together was that everyone was just around the corner for any requirement. This does not hold true while working remotely though. Reduce the number of missed calls and the time taken to reply to any form of digital communication (email, text etc). Responding faster can significantly improve coordination amongst the team. 

Establish Core Hours:
If one is working out of an office, these are typically the working hours set down by the organization. Working from home gives greater flexibility. However, in order to better coordination amongst team members, define the times you would surely be available during the day. During this time, you should be easy to contact, and your response time should be minimum.

In situations like these, over communication is better than inadequate. Any update no matter how insignificant it seems, should be shared with the team. Use collaborative platforms to enable everyone in the team to stay updated with what the other is doing. Delegate and take regular updates on the progress of the tasks given. Stay connected.

Share your Schedules:
Maintaining and diligently updating a team calendar which is shared amongst the members would make it easier to keep track of everyone’s tasks and events scheduled for the day. It can also help members coordinate and stay aware of what the other members are doing. There are plenty of tools available today which makes it easier for teams to function smoothly on virtual platforms.

Remember the Chit Chat:
We all know how easy it is to burn out at work if it weren’t for our work friends, our colleagues, our peers (and even our bosses!). They are the ones who help you carry on through the seemingly impossible deadlines, rejections, clients etc. and while social distancing becomes the need of the hour, it is just as important not to mentally isolate oneself. Organize routine conference calls, where the team can discuss any random topic under the sky as long as it doesn’t pertain to work or COVID-19. Bring back those work jokes and update each other on shows/movies to watch while in self quarantine. Make use of technology to stay connected at a safe distance.

Maintaining virtual relationships can be quite complex. With most of the communication being done digitally, misunderstandings and miscommunication is that much easier. This period of self-isolation is also just a phase that is sure to pass. Here’s hoping that the world returns to normalcy as soon as possible, till then stay safe and stay connected.