Why You Should Work Like a Remote Employee (Even If You're Office Based)

Posted on July 27, 2016

There’s tons of great advice out there on how to run a remote team well, but you’ve ignored it all. It’s not for you, after all. You and your colleagues all sit within a few feet of each each day.

But hold on, writes Sasha Rezvina on the iDoneThis blog recently. Actually, co-located teams can still learn tons from the best practices of those that collaborate from across the world.

No, you’re not going to start Skyping your co-worker that sits two desks down or (sadly) planning team reunions in exotic locales. Rezvina focuses on what traditional teams can learn about efficient information sharing from those that are spread far and wide.

Do you really need to interrupt a colleague?

The simple fact is that, with time zone issues and otherwise unaligned schedules, remote team members often can’t ask each other for help when they need a particular pieces of information. That might sound like a massive downside of working this way, but Rezvina points out it actually forces remote teams to be much more thoughtful about how information is shared, which results in more efficiency in the long-term.

“Relying on other people for information causes unnecessary friction in your workflow and directly hinders everyone’s productivity. Every time you tap someone on the shoulder you assume that what you need is more important than what they’re doing. It creates an entire culture around disruptiveness, where no one hesitates to interrupt their peers for their own needs,” she writes.

Instead, remote teams, if they’re going to function at all, quickly get over any information-hoarding tendencies they might have and figure out ways to store all necessary information where it is available all the time to everyone. Maybe your co-located team should consider something similar?

Document everything like a remote team.

All you need to do is pick a collaboration program like Evernote, Process Street orQuip and commit to documenting everything, Rezvina explains. Just decide who will document what, give them full ownership of how to accomplish this, and then tinker with your system until it’s working for everyone.

Do this well and you’ll not only avoid interrupting each other constantly — “Documentation eliminates gatekeepers… Any employee can access those meeting notes, the client emails, or even the work-from-home policy without having to bother a fellow employee,” Rezvina writes — but it will also ensure your team is on the same page about processes, mission, and even values.

But great documentation isn’t the only trick co-located teams can learn from their remote brethren. In the remainder of her thoughtful post, Rezvina explains other lessons spread out teams have to teach, including hiring for autonomy and how tostop wasting so much time on meetings. Check it out.