Remote team collaboration has become a massive part of working culture—it’s going to continue to be so in 2021, and beyond.
But how can companies help their remote teams collaborate more efficiently? It’s difficult to work as one cohesive team when everyone is working from their homes and in various time zones.
While the pandemic has made virtual leadership a necessity, this could very well be the way we continue to work in the future.
We share seven ways that companies can prepare for remote team collaboration for the next few years.
1. Plan Your Remote Team Collaboration
Remote team collaboration, like every other business process, needs to be carefully planned out before execution.
Using process diagramming, like in the below example, will help companies keep track of their remote teams and how they function.
A plan is essential for several reasons. For instance, onboarding new remote team members becomes easier if you have a plan that serves as a reference point.
Plans can also be restructured as and when needed to reflect the way the remote team works in the field.
2. Create Schedules to Improve Remote Team Collaboration
With remote teams working from separate locations and in varying time zones, collaboration becomes a major challenge.
Not everyone may be working at the same time—weekends may vary depending on the country an employee lives in. Gather this information using intranet signup forms.
But it’s not just about available hours—remote employees should feel like they can clock out at convenient times.
If work is eating into people’s leisure time or the time they would spend with their family, that can breed resentment, which eventually impacts their productivity.
Some employees may be able to work odd hours, such as earlier in the day, or later in the evening. Ask them what time is convenient for them and make note of it.
Once you have tracked the different time zones, availability, and hours of overlap, you can create schedules for when remote employees can communicate on messaging apps.
3. Balance Transparency and Remote Team Collaboration Meetings
Transparency is key to remote team collaboration—since managers and team members can’t stop by at each other’s desks to check on how something is progressing or if they need help.
Managers also need to give their teams enough room to breathe—you don’t want people to spend more time cataloging their activities instead of doing work.
Holding regular team meetings is a good way to keep everyone on the same page, to check in on what’s working, and to troubleshoot roadblocks.
But that doesn’t mean companies should hold more meetings. Not every discussion needs people to drop what they’re doing to join a call—they can take place over a remote work app.
4. Use Remote Team Collaboration Tools
Remote team collaboration can be as productive and efficient as in-house teams if companies use the right tools, like this example.
Plenty of software is available, but companies don’t need to get them all—it won’t be feasible for the budget, and training and onboarding may become more complex.
Here are the kinds of tools that companies can look at investing in:
Using the right tools in your company will make it easier for teams to collaborate, no matter where they are located.
5. Diversify Remote Team Collaboration Channels
Taking a cross-channel approach to remote team collaboration is a good way to improve workflow.
Avoid having only text-based or video-based conversations by using multiple channels. Text can often fail to convey emotion or gestures, which is why teams need to hold regular video calls.
Within chat-based apps, don’t have everyone messaging in one place—create separate channels for different subjects. And demarcate a space for discussions unrelated to work.
Make the process of using these channels easier by creating explainer videos—also include when and for what purpose channels are to be used.
6. Remote Team Collaboration Thrives Through Socialization
One thing that improves remote team collaboration is socialization—these activities help remote teams feel more connected to each other, no matter the distance between them.
Such activities also let employees get to know each other better outside of the workplace—it’s a great bonding exercise that allows people to form organic bonds.
Trivia nights, movie nights, virtual coffee meetups, gaming competitions, and photo or video contests are fun ways for people to connect and interact despite the distance between them.
7. Encourage Feedback for Remote Team Collaboration
Feedback is necessary for remote team collaboration to be a success. Managers need to ask their team members regularly what they’re comfortable with and what’s working for them.
Foster an environment where teams feel able to report issues that they’re facing—and expect that it will be addressed.
Conducting surveys within your team at set periods helps with gathering feedback, but it’s important to communicate frequently to improve remote work efficiency.
Keep channels open to encourage communication—or set timings and days when managers and C-suite executives can be contacted.
Key Takeaways: Remote Team Collaboration Will be the Future of Work in 2021
Remote team collaboration will be an important part of the way we work in the future.
Here are seven ways to prepare for remote team collaboration in 2021 and beyond:
- Make a plan
- Create schedules
- Balance transparency and meetings
- Use tools
- Diversify channels
- Encourage feedback
Note that these collaboration techniques can be used across the board, for an external writing company, as well as for remote teams.
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