The liberation of remote working sends shivers down many a spine!
So much freedom, no more commutes, garlicky lunches and comfy sweatpants.
Remote working can, however, be restricting for Instructional Designers and those of us who get the best results through interaction with colleagues and clients.
In this post I’d like to explore some of the mechanisms that you can use to create a collaborative environment for your remote workers.
You’re already kinda good at this! As instructional designers you have a significant advantage over other remote professionals as you are well versed in organisational processes such as the ADDIE model (if you’re not sure what ADDIE is, try these great instructional videos). Not only does this define your instructional goals but it also outlines expectations for your all remote IDs.
A thorough review of instructional goals, Instructional/Learner analysis and course objectives guarantee everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet!
Have a way of keeping tabs on each other’s progress
Create a shared calendar on Google Calendar that marks out all important meetings, deadlines and vacations so that everyone knows what your availability is.
In order to keep track of where you are in terms of project progress, it is worth investing in project management tools such as Basecamp or TeamGannt as they allow you to set and allocate specific tasks to your colleagues.
Tools like Elucidat also have built in features that allow you to communicate such as the ‘Comments Feature’. This feature gives you the ability to pinpoint specific elements of your project, reducing the risk of intentions being lost in translation.
Organisations now offer more flexible hours and part time jobs than ever before. This can make it hard to keep tabs on your team when working remotely (it’s not like you can look around the office to see who’s about!).
There are some great tools that allow you to create a workplace environment such as Sqwiggle or HipChat that allow your whole team to communicate through instant messaging, image sharing, screen/webcam sharing. These are incredibly helpful as they allow you to see who is around and communicate with them immediately. These tools also make you feel less like you are working alone, simultaneously spurring you on (no slacking now!) and keeping you company.
When you work remotely it is easy to get distracted!
Although Sqwiggle and Hipchat are great tools, it’s important to create an appropriate forum for social communication; you don’t want you or your colleagues to become hermits, but you also want the work to get done.
Keep your colleagues up-to-date with company gossip by distributing a monthly newsletter. You could create a private social media site for team members to post personal information and send invites to events. This blog post has some interesting examples of different ways to set up private social media accounts.
It’s important that your colleagues don’t feel on their own. According to this article loneliness is thought by many to be as damaging to health as obesity!
Use the Cloud
Remember how irritating it was when you needed to work on a project but didn’t have the file native to your computer?
Remember how time-consuming it was to track them down?
This is an issue I’m sure we’ve all experienced even when side-by-side in an office and without flexi-time!
Say no more!
Now with the Cloud all the information your staff could need is available 24/7 and with Cloud based apps you can simultaneously author materials without the risk of corrupt files (see how to collaborate in the Cloud with Elucidat here).
Use your intuition with your colleagues
If you suspect that one of your team is struggling, get in touch with them straight away. Your understanding of your team will of course vary depending on how long you have worked together.
Another drawback of remote working is that emails and instant messaging can be so easily misinterpreted. Have a look at this great post which outlines some of the dos and don’ts of remote communications.
We think the points about being ‘Hyper-Aware of Misinterpretation of the Written Word’ and being ‘Open About Less Positive Developments’ are very important.
Due to the risk of misinterpretation of emails and instant messaging it is important that your colleagues visit HQ occasionally and communicate in person. In this blog post they also suggest that your ‘new remote teammates spend their first days or weeks at HQ as good as collaboration tools are, they are not effective in building the personal relationships and communication shortcuts that come very quickly face-to-face.’
Have an ‘Open-door policy’
An ‘Open door policy’ means that any employee can talk with any level manager about any issue at any time. This cuts down on time-consuming bureaucracy and creates a less stressful environment for your remote employees.
At Elucidat we believe in the concept of ‘Everyone on Support’, this means that everyone within our company can volunteer or be asked to contribute with helping support from CEOs to Marketing.
This is why:
So there we go, some incredibly simple ways of keeping your remote teams on track.
Have you got any simple tips that will help others improve Remote authoring? Are you sitting around in your track pants right now thinking “This is the life!?” Please leave comments below and help us and your fellow educators to improve.