Craig has written previously about our forays into building a distributed team and the importance of having the right communication tools. As a remote employee myself, one thing I’m grateful for every day is our use of video.
A lot of great moments happen on our brief, 20 minute, daily video chats. It’s a way for us all to be together even though we’re distributed throughout the country. I have fun stealthily capturing some of those moments by taking screenshots during the calls. I’ve even occasionally created color palettes and patterns based on the colors the team wears. Here are some important lessons I’ve learned from communicating via video.
Holler If Ya Hear Me
Inevitably on a video chat, someone will be muted and trying to talk or unintentionally not muted while they’re snacking on corn chips. Gesture can help you signify that something is amiss. A simple gesture can say, “I can’t hear you.” or “I’d like to add something next.” or, if you’re really skilled, “I’ll be right back my headphones are in the other room.”
For a distributed team, video can bring back elements of body language you miss on purely audio calls. A certain facial expression or posture can speak volumes. If you hear your coworker say everything is fine but see that they look tired and stressed, you might intuit that they need some support or at least be in a position to ask if they’re really ok.
Laughter is the best medicine
Is there anything more satisfying than making someone laugh? Jokes don’t always translate that well through text. With video, you can crack a joke and hear if someone is really laughing out loud. And if the inspiration strikes to break into tap moves or sing a tune, you have that freedom too.
Cheer each other on
You can really show your teammates that you have their back, that you appreciate their efforts, and that you value them with a sincere and visual display of emotion. A digital high five, a round of applause, or a big smile can go a long way to helping everyone feel connected.
Get out there (and get together, too)
Before We Are Mammoth had full-time remote employees, we had an open attitude about working from home. Giving employees the flexibility to work from home (or elsewhere) when they need or want to was a great dress rehearsal for the real thing.
Even now, we’ve had folks who typically work in the Chicago office work from as close as the coffee shop down the street to as far as Germany- and lots of places in between. On an average day, there are four remote faces, but that balance can tip at any time. Our mindset and our tools make this not only easy but fun as well.
A few times a year, a strange thing happens- no one is on video because we’re all face to face! As beneficial as seeing each other on screens can be, the real thing is even better.