Father sitting with baby and using cell phone
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By Oren Ariel
March 29, 2017

The Leadership Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question, “What are your strategies for staying effective while working remotely?” is written by Oren Ariel, chief technology officer and co-founder of Capriza.

Working more than 20 years in tech, I’ve spent a significant portion of time working remotely. Though I’ve worked in companies of various sizes and assumed different roles within them, the challenges of working remotely are always the same: You need to know how to communicate effectively across long distances.

Building enterprise software is a challenging exercise when everyone is in the same room, let alone spread across the globe. It’s important to understand from the get-go that the success of your business depends on being able to work effectively in these circumstances.

Here are some tips I’ve learned that can help you perform well even when you’re far away from your coworkers:

Keep your colleagues current

Start every day by asking yourself this question: “What have I learned in the last day that would make a difference to my peer or team on the other side of the globe?” Being able to keep your remote teams in sync is vital to avoiding costly mistakes. Any type of information matters, such as competitive intel, customer feedback, issues or shortfalls in your product, or burning internal matters.

Make it a habit to call remote coworkers if you haven’t heard from them in a while. However busy or tired you are, it’s important to make that connection and exchange information. You have to approach it in an active way, and you should err on the side of over-communicating. It’s better to share something that’s already known than to potentially deprive someone of a critical piece of information.

Find optimal times to connect with your team

Here’s a common scenario: You’re at the end of a long day and finally get home to be with your family. But wait—you still have work to do on calls with overseas teams. The biggest mistake in this situation is to try and make those calls while you’re busy doing personal stuff. You, your family, and your coworkers will all suffer.

 

Instead, find the best slot in the day where you can truly focus on an activity and make the most of it. Due to the time difference between me and my remote teammates, I usually defer those activities until after my family is in bed and the house goes quiet. Otherwise, I’ll start late and spend the morning at home, or make my calls in the car after completing personal morning tasks. A long commute becomes a blessing in disguise with this model, as it’s a great time to knock out calls to sync with your teams.

There’s no replacement for face time

Regardless of the quality of communication tools being used, working remotely still tends to wear on people over time, to the point that tension can start to creep into relationships. That’s why it is so important every once in awhile to get on a plane and go meet your team for face-to-face interaction. It will pay dividends not just in the time you’re there, but in virtual collaboration for months afterward.

And don’t just work while you’re in the same location; also try to have some fun together. My rule of thumb is to make such a visit once a quarter. It’s like pressing the reset button—any tension accumulated over that period often disappears instantly.

If you hone these techniques while working remotely, you will immediately start to see the some of the benefits. If the company is firing on all cylinders 24-7, a request made as you’re going to bed may be resolved when you wake up.

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