How do you lead a team that is separated by time zones, cultures, working methods, and personalities? Even professionally trained project managers have difficulty encouraging online collaboration. One solution is technology, such as instant messaging, video conferencing, and online planning and scheduling charts. Still, businesses must use these online collaboration tools with a common goal and good management practices.
Communication is difficult in professional environments. It is even more difficult if you are part of a distributed, remote team. While remote working is not new, many organizations have been forced to adopt it in recent years, seemingly overnight. Meetings and communications with remote teams began virtually rather than in person.
Continue reading to learn how to improve the efficiency and success of your remote team collaboration.
What is online collaboration?
Working effectively across distances with colleagues, customers, and partners, whether they are in the next room or on the other side of the world, is what online collaboration entails. The rise of remote teams in recent years has coincided with technological advances and increasing complexity in creating digitally connected products, services, and customer experiences.
Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations discovered the need for online collaboration among employees. It is advantageous for organizations to bring together diverse groups of talented people from all over the world to collaborate, innovate, and tackle complex challenges online.
Benefits of online collaboration across teams
Collaboration across teams is important regardless of whether employees at a company work in the same location. Online collaboration has the potential to boost creativity, engagement, and innovation. It promotes success and growth, both individually and organizationally, because collaborative employees are more productive and work more efficiently.
When teams collaborate, they learn new things from one another, increasing their capacity to grow beyond their comfort zones. Besides that, team collaboration adds meaning and value to the job, making employees happy with what they do. Employees are more likely to stay for the long term when they have a sense of belonging and are connected. Furthermore, online collaboration allows your teams to complete important projects and meet deadlines efficiently.
Here are the six tips to enhance team collaboration across distances.
1. Communicate clearly and often
Remote teams must know their priorities, deadlines, expectations, and objectives. Furthermore, it is easier to coordinate work when project managers and team members can see who is working on what and when. Project managers should regularly check in with each individual using various communication channels. Beyond work-related concerns, the goal is to ensure that remote employees feel engaged and empowered.
2. Set communication boundaries and norms
One of the benefits of online collaboration is the freedom to work in their way. Project managers should encourage this flexibility by resisting the urge to micromanage or over follow-up on tasks. Ask team members how they prefer to communicate, what time of day they are most productive, and when they prefer to be offline.
All these can be done using Clariti software. It allows you to add your co-workers to the contacts list to communicate with them. When your coworkers are online, you can also call them by clicking on the phone icon. Communication of these preferences to the team promotes respect for each individual’s boundaries and needs. This can boost morale and allow each group member to do his or her best work. Project managers could also specify how frequently to communicate, how quickly to respond to messages, and how to interact with others.
3. Encourage equal participation across collaboration channels
Understanding team personalities and communication styles can aid in keeping everyone involved and engaged. Some people, for example, prefer to see their coworkers on video with all of the nonverbal cues, whereas others prefer written communication or one-on-one interactions. Knowing which communication channel to use in which situation and with which group of people is one characteristic of a good manager.
The host or moderator could distribute a meeting agenda with time slots for each presenter. Another option is to have people raise their hands in a chat box if they want to ask a question or make a comment. The moderator can then recognize them at the appropriate time. Managers should encourage employees who are more introverted and less likely to speak to collaborate remotely. Following up after asking for their input can bring them into the conversation and make them feel more included. This also applies to meetings where remote workers are viewed on video, and other employees are present in the same office.
4. Make time for team building
The rigidity of these formal meetings necessitates more informal interactions. Virtual happy hours, online gaming, video meetings with pets, and other activities can all help to foster camaraderie and trust. These events can provide people with an alternative to the natural human contact they lack in the remote setting.
Online networking events allow colleagues who never met in person to converse virtually. Coworkers who only met a few times in the office get to know each other better and begin an ongoing correspondence. All this paves the way for future collaborative opportunities.
5. Celebrate successes
Project managers should also use online collaboration to recognize deserving employees. Remote workers who are isolated from their peers may feel especially underappreciated, stressed, and uncertain. Managers must make an effort to understand what teams are working on and the contributions of each individual. It can be beneficial to inquire about recent successes, creative ideas, obstacles overcome, or colleagues who have assisted them. Small gestures of gratitude, such as gift cards, an online toast, or time off, can go a long way.
6. Share files and data
Online collaboration becomes much easier when teams can share documents and data in one location. Everyone should be able to securely access and edit all project documents. Any changes should be immediately visible to the team, with version control to see the most recent documents.
This method keeps files and other data from becoming lost in spreadsheets, e-mails, and other siloed systems. Teams work better together when they have a shared understanding of the most recent project data and details. Projects are kept on track with a visual representation of activities, milestones, dependencies, due dates, and roadblocks.
Bridge the distance and get work done as a team
Managing a team that is physically located together is difficult enough. Developing online collaboration introduces new challenges, such as keeping everyone on the same digital page. Clariti is a free and easy-to-use cloud-based tool that does not require training. It takes users from plain-vanilla direct messaging to subject-based messaging, content-rich messaging and messaging in context. With Clariti’s content-rich subject chats, you never have to search for the context needed to understand the topic. It helps remote workers keep abreast with all the work at different locations by simply reviewing the rich content in the subject chats.
Clariti is ideal for small and medium businesses to boost remote team collaboration and drive productivity. Using Clariti, you can also send & receive an email, consume social media, chat or call your team, manage cloud documents, organize calendars, and so on. With the right technologies and fostering a culture of transparency and collaboration among your remote teams, you can make a significant difference in how your teams collaborate. If you want to begin, sign up for Clariti and dive in.