March 26, 2020

3 Ways to Keep Remote Teams Connected

Excerpts taken from Steelcase’s 360 articles on remote working – Breaking Down the Distance Barrier and Suddenly Working from Home?

As businesses around the country respond to the global health crisis and put measures in place to keep their employees safe, the ability to work remotely has become more important than ever. The challenge is learning how to effectively participate in remote meetings and keep teamwork going even when you can’t be with your team in person.

Teamwork is hard enough when you’re sitting shoulder-to-shoulder alongside your coworkers in the same room where you can see, hear and understand what’s happening. But when you’re working remotely, a new set of issues can pop up – Conversations by phone can sound like gibberish as people talk over each other. You’re unable to see the whiteboard if you’re the one working off site. The phone or video connection can be inconsistent or completely disconnect you. Sound familiar?

Remote working can sometimes feel isolating, so collaborative technology tools that create a virtual team environment can make a big difference in morale and productivity. Strides have been made in software specifically designed to help people collaborate more effectively when they are not co-located. For example, the video and content sharing capabilities of platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Webex allow team members to see each other and share content in real time. To make the most of your remote meetings consider these three tips:

  1. TURN YOUR CAMERA ON: Conference calls invite participants to multi-task, or worse “zone out” — because you’re hidden from view. Video should be the default setting for any remote collaboration. Seeing facial reactions and body language lets you “read the room,” plus people are less likely to interrupt or speak over one another.
  • To do it well, keep the computer at eye level — put it on a stand or further back so it isn’t looking up your nose. Look into the camera and use natural light but avoid putting your back to a window or you’ll look like a silhouette.
  • Tip for those wanting to hide their messy house or unmade bed — with Microsoft Teams you can blur out your background — click on the More Actions button when joining a call.


  1. HEAR AND BE HEARD: Avoid rooms with lots of hard surfaces that echo (like a kitchen). Choose rooms with rugs or other softer materials (like a living room). Headphones provide a better experience than computer audio. And, if you switch from one video platform to another, close one before opening another because the software may grab hold of your microphone. Finally, if you’re late to an online meeting or not speaking, mute your audio to avoid disrupting the conversation.


  1. PREVENT DATA DISRUPTIONS: If possible, use a cable/Ethernet connection, because WiFi can be unreliable. If you’re on a video call, close any open applications to preserve computing resources for the video. Video requires more bandwidth, so if you need to share a big file consider using a second device.


With these remote meeting tips teams can stay connected and keep business objectives moving while away from the office. We know it’s not easy, but we’re all in this together. We will get through this and soon be back collaborating side by side.