Connecting while remote

As you may know, the Buckeye Innovation team is fully remote. Recently, however, we’ve received the question, “With everyone being remote, how are you still able to be so cohesive as a team?”

It’s an interesting question, and we wanted to share our answer. Maybe you can take some of these things with you into your own remote workspace!

Communication

Communication is key. Here at Buckeye, open, honest communication and transparency is the only way to go. We utilize tools like Slack, Asana, and the Google Workspace for our communication. We prefer to send open messages in channels for all to see, rather than private messages to individual colleagues. This helps keep everyone in the know and avoids “back channel” communications or gossip. We’re big proponents of “reply all.” We collaborate with our clients via Asana. With this, they can see where we are every step of the way, understanding what tasks are completed, what’s in process, and what they need to review. In our daily standups, we discuss what we plan to work on that day, and take that time to discuss with our teammates any blocks we may have. This makes for an opportunity to find resolution at the beginning of the day, rather than finding ourselves stuck in the middle. We hold Monday morning meetings discussing our wins from the previous week, and any items to be aware of going into the week. And we have wrap-up pod meetings at the end of the week, tying up loose ends and preparing for the next week.

We’re constantly communicating, constantly talking, and constantly taking the time to understand each other and our clients. And with that, it makes for a better overall experience, with minimal misunderstandings and confusion, even while remote.

Time management

When working remotely, time management is essential. It’s easy to be distracted by chores at home, or urgent tasks, or other such items. That’s why we’ve set up systems to help us connect with each other and our clients, and keep a good balance with our home life. For instance, we’ve set up dedicated focus time, where we don’t take meetings–this ensures that we can focus on our productive work. We also have meeting slots, so we can take that time to connect with each other and with our clients, ensuring all voices are heard and needs are met.

And finally, we have four-day workweeks. This has been HUGE for our productivity, as well as our connection. Because we have one fewer days of the week to complete our work than most organizations, we have to be efficient in how we manage our time. Our time management systems ensure that projects are completed on time. This goes hand in hand with communicating effectively with each other and with our clients during our workweek. We need to make sure everyone is in a good spot by the time Thursday afternoon rolls around. This extra day also allows us more time to focus on our personal lives. In turn,  it makes us a happier, healthier team overall, allowing us to have better focus while at work.

Interactivity

The Buckeye team has fun. We have virtual happy hours each month where we’ll play games, laugh, and just get to know each other. Virtual holiday parties are a must, and include everything from carving pumpkins together to opening presents. We complete quarterly wellness challenges where we’ll compete against each other for prizes and push each other to reach our goals. There are active Slack channels dedicated to our interests, from recipe exchanges to book clubs to funny memes. We even have one devoted just to pictures of our pets! All of this helps foster a sense of community, and helps us get to know each other and our personalities as individuals.

Some in-person time

Speaking of getting to know each other, we recently started doing in-person meetups again! Most of our team is in the Columbus, Ohio area. Those teammates will occasionally meet together for lunch, client holiday parties, or even walking our dogs. But don’t worry, we don’t leave out the teammates outside the Columbus area! We include them virtually as much as possible. And we also just had our first annual Buckeye Innovation retreat. Everyone from around the country flew in for a long weekend to talk business, do team-building activities, and most importantly, just have fun. We’ll be doing more of this in-person time, and we’re excited about it!

Intentionality

Everything we do in our work, and how we work, is intentional and thought-through. We make an effort to communicate, to understand, and to work together as a team. We build processes to help organize our work, so we each know what’s expected, and so the team as a whole knows what direction we’re heading. With this, yes, we’re remote — we’re also cohesive, and able to best amplify the impact of our clients.

 

What kind of tactics do you take to help with your team cohesion? What might you add to the list? We’d love to hear about it!