Managing remote teams, particularly when the transition has been reactive and overnight, can feel challenging. Striking the balance of accountability vs oversight, while maintaining a productive and happy team means getting the right structures and practices in place. (Orti & Middlemiss 2019).
This blog article recaps the main arguments from a LinkedIn Live with Pilar Orti & Maya Middlemiss http://virtualnotdistant.com and Barbara Covarrubias Venegas (Founder #virtualspacehero) on visible teamwork.
👈 Maya Middlemiss is a Freelance writer and journalist with two decades of remote collaboration and business experience. She is an associate and podcast host of Virtual, not distant and the founder of Healthy Happy Homeworking, where she works with employees, entrepreneurs, and managers to improve their experience of working from home.
Pilar Orti is a facilitator, trainer and the director of Virtual, not distant. She assists teams and organisations to adopt online collaboration practices and improving how they work together in the process. 👉
Lost in the virtual space? Knowledge sharing in hybrid teams
In today’s rapidly changing and increasingly complex work environments, effective knowledge sharing has become more important than ever before. This is particularly true when working in teams, where each member brings their unique perspectives, experiences, and expertise to the table.
At its core, knowledge sharing is the process of exchanging information, ideas, and insights to improve collective understanding, decision-making, and performance. When done effectively, it can enhance team collaboration, creativity, innovation, and problem-solving abilities. On the other hand, when knowledge is hoarded or siloed, it can lead to inefficiencies, redundancies, errors, and missed opportunities.
While knowledge sharing is important in any team setting, it becomes even more critical when working in virtual or hybrid teams. These types of teams are often geographically dispersed, diverse, and reliant on technology for communication and collaboration. As a result, they face unique challenges in terms of building trust, fostering social connections, and maintaining shared understanding and accountability.
To overcome these challenges, it is crucial to be intentional about knowledge sharing in virtual and hybrid teams. Here are a few ways to do this:
Establish clear communication norms and expectations: Define how and when team members will communicate, what channels will be used, and how information will be shared and documented.
Foster a culture of openness and curiosity: Encourage team members to ask questions, share ideas, and challenge assumptions. Emphasize the value of learning from each other’s perspectives and experiences.
Leverage technology to support knowledge sharing: Use tools such as video conferencing, chat apps, wikis, and shared document repositories to facilitate collaboration and knowledge sharing.
Create opportunities for social interaction: Schedule regular virtual team-building activities, such as virtual coffee breaks, game nights, or happy hours, to help build trust and foster social connections.
Recognize and reward knowledge sharing: Celebrate and acknowledge team members who actively contribute to knowledge sharing and create incentives for others to do the same.
In conclusion, knowledge sharing is essential for effective team collaboration, creativity, and innovation. When working in virtual or hybrid teams, it is even more critical to be intentional about knowledge sharing to overcome the unique challenges posed by these settings. By following the above tips, teams can create a culture of openness, trust, and continuous learning that will ultimately lead to greater success and satisfaction for all members.
🗣️ What is the idea behind working out loud and how it is connected to visible teamwork?
Intending to bridge virtual distance within remote organizations, the concept of working out loud translates to open-source sharing of information. That said, the framework is based on the incorporation of co-workers in one’s thinking process, promoting mutual learning within an organization.
While the concept of working out loud defines itself by making work visible in a way that is helpful for ourselves and others, visible teamwork builds on this foundation emphasising the aspect of teamwork. This emphasis however can mean uncovering invisible patterns which can have a significant impact on teamwork. By understanding which aspects of teamwork we want to make visible, organisations can enhance virtual team communication and promote a sustainable remote work culture.
💡The three principles of visible teamwork
Visible teamwork serves the purpose of creating a sense of belonging in the virtual space by bridging the virtual distance between employees by making aspects of teamwork visible. At its core is the notion that various things about us affect teamwork and that making them visible to the team can help us improve our collaboration. The framework can be understood as an interplay of the following three areas:
🧩Deliberate communication: What do we need to know about each other that we are missing out on because we are not together all the time?
🧩Work visibility: How visible is my workflow to other co-workers?
🧩Planned spontaneity: How can I formalize information that otherwise would be picked up spontaneously?
🗪 How can we foster deliberate communication in our virtual teams?
In its essence, deliberate communication is about formalizing information that otherwise would be picked up spontaneously. Sharing our mood or our availability can help strengthen interpersonal relationships with our team members. On the other hand, it gives us clues on how to interact with each other given the circumstances. Especially in a virtual setting information about our surroundings can easily get lost which is why it is essential to set up regular ways of enhancing deliberate communication.
If you think your context will influence your team’s performance, find a way of sharing your context in a way that suits your team. Depending on your team culture and workflow, you can do this asynchronously, or in real-time. A chat-based collaboration platform like Slack with a dedicated channel like “Context” or “What´s going on” can be a great tool to communicate those external factors that affect us as a person, which team members might be unaware of because of physical distance.
💥What is planned spontaneity and why is it so important?
In the virtual space, nothing is happening until you plan it, which is why it is unmissable to create structures and spaces for employees to be spontaneous. This can mean something as simple as creating informal channels within collaboration tools, where people can talk about things other than work or build in some minutes of informality at the beginning and the end of meetings. The goal of implementing the principle of planned spontaneity is to allow team members to be spontaneous. It is an essential step in making virtual work more human, enabling the possibility of building an asynchronous and more formal process around what is a human and spontaneous process.
💡Why is it important to share not just your work, but how you work within the organisation (team advocacy)?
When information gets shared, work does not only get more human, but it is also the time when another person’s thinking process makes us reflect our own. Sharing how we are working within an organisation makes us aware of the different perspectives that each team member brings to the table. By sharing our thinking process with the team, we make ourselves vulnerable but if we are in a team where it is psychologically safe to do that and where we can receive constructive feedback, our ideas can grow to something bigger.