The importance of teamwork has increased significantly in recent years. Companies rely on a diverse team of specialists to manage IT projects, acquisitions, and much more. New technologies like video conferencing allow companies to convene quickly to meet urgent needs. As a business transcription company, we provide timely video conference transcription services so that documents can be shared with everyone in the team, which facilitates analysis and record-keeping. To maximize the effectiveness of today’s large, dispersed, digital, and diverse teams, organizations need to work on fostering team collaboration. Here are some tips to create a more inclusive environment and build greater involvement.
- Leverage the right communication tools: When extending participation on projects to virtual workers, use the right communication tools. There are a variety of options to choose from such as phone, email, text, direct messaging, video conferencing via Google Hangouts, Skype or other platforms, and project management systems. Make sure everyone on your virtual team has the skills to use these tools and are aware of the protocols involved, such as which communication modes to use in which circumstances. An article in the Entrepreneur recommends setting up a table at the conference and ensuring that each remote worker has a seat at the table to make everyone feel included.
Microsoft’s Outlook design team is a classic example of building collaborating with remote teams, according to a recent www.strategy-business.com article. The team of designers and engineers is spread across three cities. To create a unified vision for their new email/calendar platform project, the team realized that they would need a virtual space ensured that “no one feels left out because they’re on the other side of the world.” They decided on regular standard meetings involving design leads and monthly all-hands meetings, a set of collaborative technologies, and a united set of principles and values that would allow the entire team to stay on the same page using a common vocabulary.
- Actively use remote management techniques: In an article in the Entrepreneur, John O’Duinn, author of Distributed: Leading Global Teams, says that managers should actively use regular one-on-one meetings, regular reviews with no surprises, recognition for work done well, trust, and delegation of authority to succeed with remote teams.
- Provide clarity on roles and tasks: To promote collaboration, the roles of individual team members should be clearly defined and well understood. When individuals are assigned a significant portion of their work, they are more likely to focus on the task, and other team members can rely on them for this. Individual contributions are as important as teamwork itself.
- Create an environment favorable to the open sharing of ideas: This will help build ‘psychological safety’ – a shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking. According to Google’s Aristotle project, this is one of the most important elements of teaming. Psychological safety means that people should be able to speak freely about controversial topics, without fear of retribution. A massive analysis of team-building dynamics, the study revealed that the teams that prospered were those whose members could retain the traits that defined them outside of work and didn’t have to “put on a work face” when they joined the group.
- Treat in-office and remote team members in the same way: O’Duinn stresses that equal treatment is an important aspect when it comes to successfully managing a team with in-office and remote workers. Regardless of where they are located, all team members should be given the same opportunities and treated and rewarded equally. Encourage each participant to contribute during meetings. Managers should also focus on seeing that each member is furnished with sufficient relevant information and included in the decision-making process. For instance, meeting transcription and sharing of the notes among employees who could not attend important office meetings will ensure that they stay in the information loop.
- Cultivate empathy among team members: It’s not easy to put yourself in another person’s shoes, especially if that person is in another geographical area. Encouraging in-office workers and remote employees to learn more about one another is a great way to build empathy. Google’s study showed that, in the best teams, members show sensitivity, and most importantly, listen to one another. A www.fastcompany.com article explained how inbound marketing and sales platform Hubspot actually trains its employees to be more be more empathetic – no mean task considering that they have 2,000 coworkers across seven global offices. They host “Humans of HubSpot,” a live storytelling show where employees share personal anecdotes about their own lives and identities. This strategy, according to HubSpot, builds trust between colleagues and drives results.
- Socialize: Watercooler talk is critical for personal relationships to thrive and this is all the important when it comes to a remote team. One study found that individuals who spent 15 minutes socializing with colleagues showed a 20 percent improvement in performance over people who didn’t. Leave time in meetings for personal updates, ask about each other’s families, and greet each other on birthdays. If possible, meet in person. Host an event for your in-office and remote employees.
The bottom line: everybody in a virtual team needs to be on the same page, which is why all companies with virtual teams take communication very seriously. Business transcription agencies play an important role in supporting such interactions by helping them analyze and share remote communications such as meetings, conferences, interviews, teleconferences, training sessions, and more.