In recent years, one of the biggest challenges faced by business teams is collaboration. Many companies have adopted a remote team business model, which is proven to be popular among employees. However, this format has some limitations, especially when it comes to collaborating effectively.
Nearly half of managers do not feel confident in overseeing a team operating remotely. In fact, 1 in 5 employees say the difficulty in remote collaboration is the most difficult part of a work-from-home setup. Despite these statistics, remote team collaboration can be advantages as long as you know how to leverage the right strategies and tools. It is possible to maintain employee productivity and collaborate intelligently, even if your team is remote.
Here is how to collaborate effectively if your team is remote:
1. Use team collaboration software
Team collaboration software is a must when your team is remote. Through this software, members can bounce ideas off one another, get tasks assigned to them, update others on progress, participate in group discussions, and solicit feedback instantaneously.
It connects everyone on your team, promoting ongoing collaboration and team-building. Think of it as where texts, emails, calls, and other digital communications can be managed, all through a single platform.
2. Emails, calls, and video are your options
You have three options in communicating through emails, calls, and video. An email or text message is quick to fire off, but a video creates more rapport and empathy. Voice calls are less common than video and, when possible, can be replaced with video.
That said, if the remote work involves making calls, you don’t want to be calling someone by video or voice when they’re on the line with another party. Consider what the best form of communication is for a given interaction.
3. Have guidelines for team communication
Any business with a remote team should establish norms and expectations for team communication. This might involve regular project updates or communicating with supervisors regularly.
There may also be protocols for messaging to stop overwhelming everyone with messages that aren’t relevant to them. If there’s a standard in place, it gives employees a baseline to open their communication remotely, which isn’t natural for everyone.
4. Don’t send too many remote messages
You don’t want to bombard your team with too many messages. It can be ineffective and annoying and won’t lead to healthy collaboration. Amongst your strategy to get people meeting and talking, and working on things together, make sure every message you send is meaningful and has clarity. Furthermore, always send messages during work hours and not when people aren’t on-shift.
5. Set up weekly video meetings
At least once a week, set aside a 15-minute video meeting between team members. Cover relevant topics, take questions, review upcoming tasks and work, and clarify requirements.
You might also want to schedule meetings for smaller teams and groups to ensure ongoing communication between team members. Seeing your fellow team members’ faces can be very beneficial and allow employees to connect on a more human level despite being remote.
6. Break down large projects into smaller tasks
When you’re headed towards the same project goal but know you won’t reach it for multiple weeks, break down the more general objective into smaller tasks. Weekly or multi-day tasks allow team members to collaborate and set priorities.
You end up with more accomplishments in the long-term and can even set short-term rewards if that’s your style. With remote communication software, you can also assign these tasks to groups.
7. Clarity in the tasks assigned
When people work remotely, they are more likely to get sidetracked and fail to collaborate on work tasks. Their supervisor or manager has to ensure the utmost clarity in what tasks are assigned. Explain why something’s being assigned.
Provide clear deadlines. As you’re assigning them through team collaboration software, you can embed tasks with additional links and information if there’s any confusion.
8. Allow friendships to develop
Provide space for friendship to develop. Allow people to collaborate and message freely. Try to encourage social conversations, which can create bonds that apply to work.
The more individuals can connect and build relationships, the happier they will be in their collaboration. There may be ways for you to motivate these interactions by having online contests, planning virtual events or celebrations, sharing photos through software, or similar methods.
9. Customize your collaboration
Just like each works differently, people like to collaborate differently. Some enjoy regular video calls to keep everyone on track, while others prefer a weekly video call that’s more open and accepting of suggestions, solutions, and employee participation.
Try to find ways to collaborate that work for your team while getting to know your team members and what fits best for their remote work style.
10. Create collaborative opportunities
When you can do so efficiently, put forth collaborative opportunities and give team members shared tasks. This applies to all levels, including supervisors. While you don’t want to make unnecessary or inefficient decisions, at times, you will find that assigning a job to two team members as opposed to one can achieve deadlines and meet expectations faster and more collaboratively.