About one and half years back, suddenly due to the outbreak of Covid 19 the entire workforce in the world was forced to work from home. Under those circumstances, it became very important to collaborate effectively with all the members of the team to keep the business running smoothly. So, we all had to learn different ways of how to collaborate effectively with each other. In order to know about the ways to effectively collaborate with teams working from home, we have to know what is virtual or remote collaboration. Virtual or remote collaboration is nothing but collaborating virtually with all the team members through the different digital tools towards a common objective or goal. Virtual teams collaborate with each other without any physical interaction using the digital technology, share their ideas, work and communicate in real time.
Now the question is how to collaborate with the team members if you are new to this work culture. We all were clueless when the situation cropped up suddenly and we all had to start working from home. Many people have blended with this culture well and are thriving. But, on the other hand some leaders are trying very hard to build an effective collaborative remote workforce. Remote working is actually not absolutely new. Organizations worldwide used to hire people who worked remotely to cut down the geographical barriers. Moreover, people already predicted long back that remote work will be a trend that will evolve more with time. But who expected that an unprecedented event like Covid 19 would force most of the workforce worldwide to operate from home overnight.
This sudden shift in the style of working has brought quite a few challenges with it. One of the biggest challenge amongst those is how to collaborative effectively and boost the overall productivity. The world is learning the different ways on how to collaborate virtually to get the best out of their work.
The managers or team leaders must emphasize on giving very clear instructions to the team. Team leaders should set clear goals and specific objectives. The remote workers should also know what is actually expected from them and how to work in order to boost the team productivity to the max. The collaborative tools are absolutely of no use if the team members are not clear about their goals. So, it’s crucial to carry out regular virtual team meetings and update each other in the team about the progress and the tasks which are needed to run the process smoothly. The virtual team meetings help immensely in providing updates to each of the team members and keeping everyone in the team on the same page.
Effective communication is one of the greatest key to enhance collaboration with the team working remotely. Collaborating in person is not possible in the remote work environment, so, it is vital to communicate with team members very actively and effectively. When you are working remotely and connect with the team members via the chat tools and video conferencing, then you have to make sure that everyone is well adapted and comfortable in handling the tools. Most part of the working hours for remote teams are usually spent on connecting with people, conducting meetings and answering the emails. So, the few norms which can save much time and build efficiency are:
Be very clear: While sending any information to your team members always be mindful and extra cautious. Use a simple language and be precise and clear.
Don’t overload team members with useless information: The objective is to get the work done efficiently, respect each other’s time and not to overload the teammates with information that is not required. It saves time and energy for both the parties.
Using the virtual communication tools effectively: Always use the right remote communication tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet etc whichever suits your culture and needs. Also, use of different project management tools for maintaining the workflow would be an excellent choice for any remotely working team.
Each remote team is different from the other and so are their processes of work. In order to keep everyone on the same page, you need to make some criteria that everyone should follow.
While working from home, maintaining the transparency all the time could be the biggest challenge for the managers or team leaders. The lack of transparency is one of the biggest reasons behind the low employee morale, lack of trust and less enthusiasm. No organization can reach its peak unless they share both internal and external information with all the employees. You need to build a culture of trust and togetherness in the team. But how do you keep transparency while you are working from home. Although, it’s difficult but it’s very much possible. For any important updates, make sure that you don’t pass them through the team leaders but rather conduct short video sessions with the team to disclose the same. Leaders can also send emails to all the team members on the important updates and the developments of each day at the end of the business hours.
When it comes to collaborating effectively with the remote working teams, supporting each other could be one of the most important factors. Supporting each other in the team is more of a company’s core value which needs to flow from the top leaders. It is very easy to get away from the team while working remotely. For example, a team might lose their morale and may feel ignored by their peers. Lack of appreciation could also affect the confidence of the team. So, it’s essential to reach out to them and maintain an open communication channel to understand each other’s sentiments. Moreover, you can’t expect everyone to move along with the remote work culture very effectively. Some of the team members might need more time to get used to it. Here, supporting each other is one of the key factors to foster a sustainable, collaborative and a productive team.
Heavy workload and strong commitments can wear us off. Always keep some time for celebration too. We are living in a time where possibilities are infinite. It is entirely on us how we act on it. That’s why, it’s very essential to participate in some fun activities in order to build relationships and know each other better. Virtual team building activities boost the employee engagement and also teach us to cooperate and support each other. These activities are one of the best ways to foster remote team collaboration. Successful teams participate in the various team building activities to promote a good teamwork and positive work culture. Further, virtual activities can be good fun since it gives you a lot of ideas to play with. Like, it could be anything from online trivia games to giving each other a tour of your homes or your garden, sharing bucket lists or building a story together etc.
Summary: It’s extremely important to keep the communication and clear so that the team members get a precise, realistic and constructive feedback. This helps them immensely in improving their workflow and contributing more effectively towards the team goal. When collaborating with a remote working team, an organization gets the opportunity to work with a diverse pool of qualified and talented people and with the help of their collaborative work, the projects get more attention and the roadblocks get cleared easily. The final outcome is a much healthier work environment and a much better output from the teams and for the business.