Based on my experience managing remote teams there are 3 characteristics that are key when you are working on a distributed team.
- Proactive: When you are remote what people knows about you it is for you to decide. At the office non-verbal communication comes implicit. When you are at home you need to let your peers know how you are, what you are working on, etc. Don’t wait for others to request your help, ask them: “Hey Lisa, you are working on something I made some changes 2 weeks ago, can I help you with anything?”. Proactivity is a key feature in any good remote employee and proactive people tend to be happier also.
- Good team player: This one may seems like a paradox because people are isolated in their rooms but it is mandatory. I’ve seen many people spending hours trying to solve a problem that once communicated to the team was easily solved by someone else. You need to be a good team player, share with the team and help your co-workers. If you are a team manager you need to avoid the fear some people have of asking questions (on the company chat, the email, etc.) because they feel like that’s something they should already know. Reward success and reward failure because you can learn from both and nobody is perfect.
- Provides constant feedback: When you work with people in the same building feedback comes from many ways both formal and informal. When you are remote, frequently we just send feedback in a formal way (using the project management tools, corporate questionnaires, etc..). Remote employees need a way to express themselves openly about any aspects of their lives same way as we do on a coffee/smoke break.