How to Build Effective Remote Team Collaboration
It’s been many months now since your company went remote with little to no planning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After the initial hiccups of creating a remote working plan and selecting the right tools, employees got comfortable with remote work.
But quarantining at home all the time, juggling house chores and office work, and constant isolation can take a toll on anyone’s mind. As a result, many employees are facing burnout which is directly affecting their performance.
The most effective way to overcome employee burnout and frustration is by improving remote team collaboration. When team members work closely with each other, not only are they able to perform more productively but they can also notice the first signs of burnouts in their coworkers.
To optimize team collaboration in your remote team, it’s important to first understand the main challenges and implement the right remote work strategies that can help overcome those challenges effectively.
The main challenges faced by remote teams
Employees mainly suffer from isolation when there is a lack of social interaction and opportunities to connect with other coworkers. Some of the many symptoms of isolation include bad decision making and increased stress levels. For organizations, these are concerning characteristics that can severely affect the employee’s performance and productivity.
2. Distractions at home
When you are working from home, there can be too many distractions around you. Your home wasn’t built for work, it was built to give you comfort and a good night’s sleep.
Working remotely can be a struggle even in normal circumstances with all family and home demands. But working during a pandemic is something that none of us have ever done and it can feel incredibly overwhelming at times.
3. Improper communication
Remote teams can’t communicate in the same way as traditional teams mainly because their requirements, challenges, and expectations are very different.
If you are not conscious and quick in your communication, you can end up confusing your team members which can directly affect their work. Asking for ‘urgent’ discussions or meetings without any prior intimation or context can overwhelm team members and make them feel anxious.
4. Incorrect technology or wrong tools
Remote team members use technology to collaborate, communicate, and manage their work every day. As a result, the type of technology and tools you use for team collaboration can make or break your remote team’s efforts.
If the technology you are using is old, obsolete, or just wrong for your team, it will decrease team productivity and make it difficult for team members to manage their work. overwhelm employees and eventually hamper their productivity.
Tips for building a remote team that collaborates effectively
1. Establish rules of communication
Managers and team leaders should create communication guidelines for the team right when all the team members go remote or when a new team is formed. Decide on the ideal time for communication, expected response times, and the tools that should be used for phone calls, video calls, and instant messaging.
For team members to work together collaboratively, communication should be as clear and direct as possible so that nobody is confused about what has to be done. Managers should also encourage employees to think before writing important announcements, instructions, and messages. When team members know exactly what they need to do, they can perform their work faster with improved productivity.
2. Fewer meetings
While meetings are a good way for team members to come together and discuss work, too many meetings can hamper team productivity and affect the quality of work. The whole charm of remote work is that employees can work independently according to their own schedule to achieve maximum productivity. But if you keep roping in team members into unexpected meetings, it will become all the more difficult for them to focus on their own work.
As a result, companies need to drastically scale back on both the number and duration of meetings to give employees the time they need to work on their own tasks. Meetings should only be reserved for routine team discussions or important decision making. They should be scheduled well in advance with a set maximum time duration. For all other communications, team members should use messaging apps or shared company channels.
3. Take an asynchronous approach to work
When remote team members don’t work from the same office and at the same time, putting too much importance on synchronous work will only decrease productivity and take you longer to finish tasks. Instead, move to asynchronous work so that team members can do their part of the work according to their own schedule, even when their colleagues are not available.
4. Choose the right tools
Remote work comes with a unique set of challenges and you need a unique set of tools to overcome those challenges.
It is tempting to try every new tool available on the market just to see if it helps your team collaborate more effectively. But the more tools that you experiment with, the more confusing and overwhelming it will become for your team members to collaborate.
Instead of using more than a dozen tools which will only lead to more confusion, you can integrate a single tool like a digital workplace platform that can offer all the features that your remote team needs to collaborate effectively.
An ideal digital workplace platform offers project management, process management, and seamless collaboration through dedicated communication channels. More importantly, it can work as the digital replacement of the physical office space by digitizing business processes and transforming them into streamlined workflows.
Tips for hiring new remote employees for your team
1. Write a job description specifically for remote workers
The job description you write should emphasize the fact that the job is remote and it should include all the specific needs for the job. You should also mention things like flexibility and the fact that the job is more about delivering results instead of putting the total hours in every week.
2. Schedule video interviews
Face to face interviews might be difficult if the candidates are in different cities or if your country is still practicing social distancing. While voice calls are good, video interviews can give you a much better understanding of the candidates. You will be able to notice the body language of the candidates and assess if they are suitable for the job.
3. Explain your company culture during interviews
When employees work from home and have limited interactions with their team members, managers, and department heads, it’s difficult to establish the company culture. Routine meetings can help to some extent, but only when employees have the same beliefs as the company.
As a result, you should make sure to define and explain your company culture in the initial interviews with the candidates and assess whether the candidate would be a good fit for the company as a whole.
Collaboration should be a part of your company culture
The right processes and tools can help your remote team collaborate on a day to day basis, but the most cohesive and productive teams are the ones that have collaboration imbibed in their core team values.
By including collaboration as a part of your company culture and reinforcing it every day, you can create a work environment where team members are always ready to help each other out. Instead of feeling obligated to work with their colleagues, they want to actively work together to deliver great results.