5 tips on managing communication in dispersed teams

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The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that businesses of all sizes across the globe are deciding to make the move towards remote work in order to keep their employees safe. At 10Clouds, we’ve worked in dispersed teams since our inception, which means that we’ve had many years of experience in establishing the tools and processes needed for effective remote work.

We’ve found that communication plays a key part in ensuring that our projects runs smoothly and that all team members understand how their work fits into the larger whole. We wanted to share some tips with you on how to make your communication top notch and support business continuity in difficult times.

1.Define Rules and Assess workflows

Quite simply, it’s important to establish at the start of the project who is responsible for what. All team members should understand the ultimate goal and vision of the project, and the steps involved in getting there.

Project managers should be made responsible for ensuring that individual tasks are completed on time and on budget. They may also act as a point of contact or a sounding board to share ideas and to provide feedback. Having a documented workflow means that everyone is on the same page and can have an at-a-glance view of how the project is progressing at any time.

2. Select the best communication tools for your needs

We would recommend selecting one good general communication tool, and one trusted project management tool.

At 10Clouds, we find that Slack works the best for us as a communication tool for augmented and outsourced projects. It helps you to organize conversations into ‘channels’ each of which can be dedicated to a different project element. It’s easy to drag, drop and share files, and to sync the system with other tools that you might be using.

We also use JIRA for project management, which gives you an at-a-glance view of the status of your project, allows easy assigning of tasks and enables effective prioritization.

But there is a huge range of other project management and comms tools out there, so be sure to shop around and find out what works for you.

3. Set clear meeting times and regular check ins

This depends on what work methodology you’re using. If you’re working in Sprints, you might set a regular daily catch-up which works across different time zones, and a longer weekly or bi-weekly web meeting. We’ve found that if it’s possible, it’s good for all your team members to have a longer meeting at the start of each project. Not only is it useful for establishing responsibilities, but it facilitates better long term communication.

4. Document your work

Every good developer and project manager knows the importance of documenting your code – as this forms the backbone of every website and app. If you’re working in a dispersed team, it’s particularly important that everyone involved in the project keeps a record of their work. At the same time, it’s very useful to record and share solutions that each of your teams might have found successful in the past. Why not reuse elements of them and progress faster?

5. Establish an effective remote work culture

A successful and effective remote work culture should be formed around each of the above elements. The idea is that although your team is dispersed over different countries and time zones, they work together in a commonly agreed way. It can be a great benefit to have some team-members working, while others sleep, providing that the work is passed on to the next person in the right way – being responsive is crucial here. It’s also important to build a culture of trust, because some team leaders still have a tendency towards being concerned that their colleagues aren’t working hard enough, or well enough, because of the fact that they don’t see them in person in the office. Therefore, regular check-ins are fine, but trust is paramount.

Want to read more about working effectively in dispersed teams? If so, the below article might prove useful:

Changing work patterns due to the Coronavirus

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