REMOTE COLLABORATION FROM SPACE
INTERVIEW WITH ASTRONAUT PAUL RICHARDS
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REMOTE COLLABORATION TIPS FROM ASTRONAUT PAUL RICHARDS
Utilize technology: Paul uses three monitors to have enough space for the reference materials he needs for the task at hand and tries to match the technology to the other person’s preferences when meeting with others (phone, video, etc.). He emphasizes the importance of having “the right information, at the right place, at the right time.”
Train for communication: Communication is crucial for any mission or project, and astronauts practice different communication protocols so that it becomes second nature (for example, the 2-second delay or calling out specific people or teams in group conversations to direct attention). Remote communication is a skill that needs to be trained for and learned.
Teams are encouraged to practice and hone their communication skills. On Paul’s team, people had enough familiarity with each other that they needed minimal verbal communication.
Train for multiple scenarios and include feedback: the goal is to feel like you’ve been there before and it’s all happened before so that there is a certain level of comfort and familiarity to any situation. Astronauts have immediate feedback sessions after every simulation. This results in an environment of continuous improvement.
Lead with empathy: When integrating a new team, Paul recommends leading – and following – with empathy (leadership and “followship” workshops are part of the training), and recognizing that teams may have different rhythms. The common goal of a successful mission can help overcome differences in approach.
Maintain work-life balance: Paul emphasizes that one should not underestimate the difficulty of maintaining a work-life balance in high-focus, intense situations.
Overall, Paul’s advice highlights the importance of utilizing technology, training for effective communication, leading with empathy, and maintaining a work-life balance in remote collaboration. By following these tips, teams can work together effectively, even in the challenging environment of space.