Adjusting to remote work can be challenging, especially for employees who are used to working in an active, collaborative setting. Many organizations are experimenting with creative ways to foster seamless team collaboration during social isolation and lockdowns. Video meetings are an important collaboration tool and digital transcription service providers deliver accurate and complete records of the discussions. However, remote collaboration involves many challenges:
- Lack of clear boundaries during the working day may make people feel as if they are working 24/7, which can affect productivity.
- Blending home and office work can distract from office work and lead to lack of focus.
- Communication with people in another time zone is difficult as you need to find a time for meetings that is suitable to everyone.
- It’s more difficult to coordinate activities and share information when you are not in the same physical space.
- Though video meetings are a popular communication tool, technical issues can post hurdles.
- Discussions and responses may not happen immediately or as fast as they should.
- Waiting for email responses can delay decisions and work, and increase frustration.
Nevertheless, reports say that remote work is here to stay. Team leaders need to effectively manage their distributed workforce so that people stay focused and productive. They also need to ensure that their actions are in the best interests of their employees.
Here are 6 strategies to boost collaboration in remote work:
- Build an enterprise communications group: Bring together managers from different departments to form an enterprise communications team, recommends an www.allbusiness.com article. Successful cross-team collaboration can help identify and prioritize issues. If you are making new rules and policies, consult the task force, get their feedback, and proceed collaboratively.
- Centralize communication within project teams: Ensure that there is a common space where people can effectively collaborate. The team can use this communication space to express their opinions, discuss problems, ask questions, and share updates.
- Set clear, comprehensive goals and assign responsibilities: Iba Masood Co-founder and CEO, Tara AI, recommends setting up clear, detailed goals in order to address any uncertainty about each team member’s responsibilities. This will improve remote communications, sustain productivity, and make tracking progress easier. Her company accomplishes goal setting and task assignment by setting monthly targets as well as weekly and bi-weekly sprints (www.entrepreneur.com).
- Define team schedules: Lack of face-to-face interaction should not affect availability and collaboration. However, managing schedules for distributed teams can a major concern for managers, especially if there are time zone differences. The issue can be solved by defining team schedules. Things to consider include the different time zones of all employees and their normal working hours, overlap in time zones, and average response time. Setting team schedules will allow members to work without distractions during the hours when too many other team members are not active. The hours when time zones overlap would be the best for collaboration and connection.
- Use the right collaboration tools: Remote workers need the right technology for collaboration. Ensure that they have tools for video conferencing, instant messaging, file sharing, project status updates and management, and time tracking. Experts recommend creating dedicated communication channels for different teams, departments, and the whole organization. Set up team communication norms so that everyone knows which tools should be used for different activities.
- Track progress: Project success depends on fostering a communicative work environment. Effective team collaboration is crucial to improve efficiency and productivity. For project success, managers need to be committed to keeping track of progress to sustain a collaborative environment.
Video meetings and conferences play an important role in promoting flexible team collaboration. Using a communications platform that is accessible from desktops as well as mobile devices can help teams stay connected in times of social distancing. Transcribing online meetings using audio transcription services will ensure that you have a clear record of these important interactions.