Collaboration is a critical component of all workplaces, and even more so when working online. Physical distance and the absence of face-to-face interactions can create hurdles to collaboration. Here is a look at how to overcome these issues when some or all employees from their homes.
Have a handbook
Whether working remotely or otherwise, everybody must be kept on the same page. One way to achieve this is by creating an employee handbook. GitLab Inc.’s Chief Executive outlines the importance and utility of creating a handbook. It makes sure that there is one place where people are collaborating and documenting their work. It standardizes work protocols so that there remains no confusion or ambiguities. Creating a handbook will make remote work much easier and more efficient.
Forbes also recommends establishing a handbook. When working remotely, there should be no scope for unwritten rules. A handbook sets everything in stone. It provides the team members with a single source of truth for all their policy-related questions. Keeping the handbook updated with any policy changes is equally important. Moreover, there should be no copies. The only acceptable source of the handbook should be the organization’s official employee portal or intranet. This also ensures that non-employees cannot access it.
Organizations that have not yet made a handbook may consider crowdsourcing it. Employees can contribute ideas. Someone in management can convert them into standardized rules and procedures.
Embrace the virtual
Deloitte Consulting advises remote employees to adopt the virtual work culture quickly. This involves regular check-ins, updates, shared online data, information flows, and teamwork. Be considerate of team members who are working remotely. The co-founder of Tara AI echoes similar sentiments. When team members are physically isolated from one another, the need to maintain a strong culture rises exponentially.
Building relationships with team members is another major aspect of establishing a positive virtual culture. This helps ascertain the best-shared work processes and approaches. Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia, June West, writes about how “keeping communication lighthearted and phrase messages as suggestions and recommendations” is essential to building a positive virtual culture.
Take a result-oriented approach.
Millions of migrant foreign workers live throughout America. Most of them transfer money back to their home countries as remittances. A remittance transfer is the perfect example of a result-oriented task. It is purposeful, objective, and time-bound. Workplace tasks should be equally efficient. A goal-oriented approach to regular meetings improves collaboration and overall team productivity. It cuts down on unproductive chatter and saves everyone’s time. Set agendas and stick to them. Don’t involve more people on calls than are needed. The Harvard Business Review says that proper alignment of roles and agreement on goals in meetings is important. It is an efficient method of getting things done in a remote environment. The goals of team members should be in sync with one another’s and the organizations. This makes remote collaboration easy, effective, and efficient.
Enterpreneur.com suggests taking a far-sighted approach. It is easy for employees to lose their bearings when working remotely. Create monthly and weekly milestones. By focusing on time-bound goals, employees can continually check where they are headed and use course correction.
Pay attention to the written word.
Working remotely involves a lot of text-based communication. Understandably, it lacks the nuances of body language and is subject to a wide range of interpretations. Author of the forthcoming book Digital Body Language, Erica Dhawan, writes about the impact of misrepresentations of written communication. These can damage morale and impede creativity. She strongly advises choosing the words carefully. Employees must correspond in a clear, concise manner, eliminating any scope of misunderstanding and misinterpretation.
Follow-up on online meetings
Remote collaboration is an ongoing process. Virtual meetings and video calls are great for setting the agenda. Every employee must leave the meeting with a clear objective. Afterward, it is equally important to follow up and check progress till goals are met.
There are many ways to make online collaboration more effective. Remote employees must be clear about their responsibilities and deliverables. It also helps each member in a team to know about others’ tasks. A shared progress tracker can readily display which team member needs more resources or guidance. Collaborative tools ensure that remote teams operate like well-oiled machines. A healthy and productive online working culture can create significant long-term wins.
Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.