Hey worldwide friends,

Some things happened recently that reminded me of you and some of the struggles you may have faced keeping your remote teams connected.

First, let me tell you what happened.

I'm working on a new book project with a friend of mine, April Jefferson. Actually, I have a few projects in the works. (Been there?)

When we started our writing session yesterday, April said "You look tired. What's up?" I told her about all the different meetings, webinars, customer work, and partner collaborations I had going on this week...all remote and across several time zones.

Her response: "Sounds like you need breath. What might help right now?"

April's question offered a great opportunity to reflect. She suggested something easy for us to take on. We even ended our work early. That chance to reflect gave me that breath. It made my busy day easier.

It also reminded me of you and some of the struggles you might have with your remote teams.

When we work remotely, we become tempted to just communicate about work and then disconnect. But that doesn't help you or anyone on your remote team. It can be one key cause for team chat going silent, which I talked about last time.

It helps if you communicate in the following three areas:

overlapping circles showing work, personal, and professional in circles
Communicate in all three areas to encourage connection on remote teams.

Let's break that down. As a remote team member, it's useful if you:

  • Discuss what you are working on together. Where you might need help and where you can help others.
  • Share a little personal context too. How are things with you? Where might you be struggling? How can others help? (No, you don't have to share everything. Just share what might impact your work.)
  • Share some professional goals. Are you trying to pick up new skills? Are you wanting to try a new role at work? Are you taking on a new project that is stretching you? Where can others help you look for these opportunities?

You might notice a theme: How can we help each other?

If you make "how can we help?" a habit within your organization, you don't tend to see the communication channels go quiet. Instead, everyone becomes aware of opportunities to help each other out. Communication increases and becomes very focused on moving people and work forward.

In fact, it can also open up many possible new interpersonal skills that we talk about in our book, From Chaos to Successful Distributed Agile Teams. Here is a short summary of those skills:

Table with one column of distributed agile principles and another column with related interpersonal skills
Interpersonal skills that map to distributed agile princples

So just by asking "How can I help?" to someone on your remote team and really helping them reflect on that question, you might be able to give someone else a chance to get their breath. Just like my friend April did for me. Who knows what else you might provide for them with that simple question.

Give it a try. Let me know how it goes.

Creating better anywhere,


P.S., Thanks to Kerry for his questions on the last email about chat going silent. I answered him directly, but wanted to share some of those insights with all of you.