Many of us think remote collaboration is today's way of working in the modern world. However, some teams still need help to achieve a virtual workflow. It confuses people in many ways, such as maintaining productivity.
To be fair, transitioning from an office environment to a remote team is a significant change. Things that used to be commonplace, such as face-to-face brainstorming, solving problems together, or chit-chatting in the pantry are no longer possible. And when teams aren't used to working styles in virtual spaces, turbulence is inevitable.
Nonetheless, many people prefer to work remotely. According to Staples, 90% of employees feel that the flexibility of a remote environment boosts employee morale. Moreover, the survey also revealed that 77% of employees believe remote work policies lower operating costs.
All of us who implement a remote work system definitely want effective collaboration. Relax. In this post, we will learn eight rules for effective remote team collaboration.
The importance of remote collaboration
For memory recall, remote collaboration refers to keeping in touch from anywhere. You can be in a different place or sit on your favourite sofa to engage with coworkers. This allows people to work from their comfort, whether at home or in a cafe with their favourite playlist. Some teams may be in different cities or countries. But their outcomes won't skip a beat.
So, why is this collaboration essential?
Collaboration is the glue that holds all the components together in remote work. It is the way to bring things together when entire teams are spread across different time zones. Unfortunately, remote collaboration often falls apart.
There must be a moment when you have to open an email in the middle of the night and send it back to a coworker. Isn't that annoying?
According to Buffer, 20% of remote workers experience problems with collaboration and communication. Conversations that lose nuance, emotion and tone are almost non-existent is a challenge in online collaboration.
8 rules for effective remote team collaboration
According to Ken Marshall, effective remote collaboration will be reflected in employee behaviour. He said that effective remote collaboration is more than just tools and enterprise-wide policy sets.
So how do you create effective collaboration? Let's look at these actionable ways to help foster that collaboration:
The difference between remote collaboration and the real world lies in the way of communication. It's not just about chatting in chat rooms. It's much more than that. It's about changing the way you structure instructions and convey ideas.
Over-communication is not about:
- Frequently sending messages
- Asking for every day's progress
Over-communication here means trying more than usual, going one extra mile. The goal is to ensure that communication is clear and as simple as possible. Try implementing some of these ways to improve the quality of communication:
- Create guidelines on how to send messages, prioritising concise and clear messages. Use this guide to send a brief about a project/task.
- Regular video calls for project progress updates, issues, and accomplishments.
- Encourage the team to ask questions when instructions, messages or memos need to be clarified.
2. Build a centralised database with virtual project management
Using a remote collaboration tool can be a game-changing method for a virtual team. This tool will become a centralised database that makes it easy for teams to find what they need to collaborate.
Choose a tool that can integrate all the team's needs for collaboration, including data sharing, project updates and help with time management. The following seven criteria must be present in a collaboration tool:
- Communication channels
- Documentation & file sharing
- Task management
- Customer support
3. Asynchronous communication guidelines
Asynchronous communication allows teams to respond to messages at the best time. The team won't worry about keeping someone waiting for a response. Indirectly, async can save you from micromanaging and keep a team focused on their jobs.
How to create asynchronous communication guidelines? Your guide should cover these five points:
- The Project Manager (PM) determines the default mode of communication (email, personal chat or video meeting).
- The PM decides the channels that should be used and the right time.
- Provisions regarding duplication of messages. Is it necessary to archive or not?
- How often should the team check the communication channel?
- How to respond if something urgent happens.
This guide makes the team answer wisely without hindering the work of others.
4. Create the art of productive meetings
In virtual work, you must be a master of productive meetings. Because too many meetings will be a waste of time. This applies to real-world meetings, but virtual teams tend to meet more frequently.
- Create an agenda/plan
Try to make a detailed agenda of the main points of the meeting. The plan will make the meeting discussion structured.
- Keep notes and track them
Prepare team members for a minute of the meeting. Ask for a meeting summary.
- Record meeting
The great thing about virtual meetings is the recordings you can playback. Try recording a virtual meeting. It will help you find the critical points of the meeting. Remember to share the meeting with all participants.
5. Have realistic expectations
Some people have been working remotely for two years. But that doesn't mean they have mastered working from home. In fact, in 2022, Buffer finds some of the pitfalls of working virtually:
In truth, there's no way to know if the team doesn't have struggles. That's why it's essential to manage expectations. There are several ways you can apply to overcome this:
- Effective collaboration starts with trust
Encourage team members to share difficulties and problems at work.
- Ask about the team's needs in virtual collaboration
Remember that many things are different between working at home and working in an office.
- Create detailed job descriptions
It is to prevent misunderstandings and frustration among the team.
6. Set accountable acts
Even though you have to manage expectations, you still have to set high standards. And the right way to maintain high quality and work standards is to hold the team accountable for work. It's about something other than demanding high productivity, quite the contrary.
You can communicate accountability to your team in the following ways:
- Assign roles to each team
Make sure they are clear with their roles and responsibilities.
- Give consistent feedback
You can make regular meetings to discuss challenges, achievements and opportunities.
- Set clear goals with measurable objectives
This makes it easier for teams to process information.
- Communicate goals with the team
So they know where each task is prioritised.
As a PM, you must also have a responsibility to them. Like them, you also have to do these four things.
7. Rotate team members for different projects
One of the best aspects of virtual teams is a team with various backgrounds and experiences. Instead of keeping the same team on similar projects, try to mix them up. Diversity brings multiple perspectives to the table.
This collaboration will create an exciting and fun experience and help you explore the potential of others. Then remember to record the progress of each team. Do they fit in the field or just the opposite? The more paired teams, the more opportunities to learn.
8. Make time for team bonding activities
Teams may not be close, but their intimacy influences how they work together. PMs can use online team-building activities to help employees connect.
Effective remote collaboration is possible. The right process and tools can help them collaborate every day. To foster a practical cooperative attitude, you can pay attention to the eight points above.
Besides that, commitment also plays a role in collaboration. Instil collaboration in team values and culture. Through this, the team will work together actively and deliver excellent outcomes.