As remote work has become increasingly common, the need for online collaboration is more critical than ever. Effective collaboration makes all the difference in moving business forward. But remote work creates unique collaboration challenges. Easily overcome these challenges with five tips to help your team do its best work.
1. Plan your work
Communication and project signoffs can get lost—or missed—when you use traditional communication, like emails or phone calls. Keep everything organized and in one place with project management software, like Basecamp® or Asana®. These platforms can help everyone keep track of:
- Who is working on the project now—and who is next in line
- The project’s next steps
- Project due dates—individual components as well as the complete project
- All files needed for the project (This is a productivity saver because an estimated 58% of staff lose an hour a day hunting for information.)
2. Communicate effectively
Online team collaboration is more powerful when communication is made easy. Equip your team with instant messaging software, like Slack® or Microsoft Teams®, so they can share details needed to keep projects on target.
3. Encourage team fun
While online team collaboration can cut down on the daily distractions of office life, it also cuts into the camaraderie that develops from face-to-face interaction.
Create a designated “off topic” discussion space. Ask a fun question of the day to jump-start the conversation. Or set up an online game that helps staff get to know each other better—it’ll start to feel like a face-to-face team.
4. Make the most of meetings
While email and discussion software can eliminate the need for many meetings, some things work better by getting everyone in a (virtual) room:
- Debate: Brainstorm and talk about ideas.
- Discussion: Important announcements that require Q&A time.
- Decision: Large-group decisions that require everyone to have a vote.
To keep these online collaboration meetings productive, be sure to:
- Select a leader: Put someone in charge to keep everyone on task.
- Have an agenda: This helps staff prep for the discussion and keeps everyone on topic.
- Set a time limit: Set a start and stop point to keep discussion focused.
5. Check in
As crucial as online team collaboration is for a remote workforce, it’s equally important to remember that your team is made up of individuals with different wants and needs. Check in with individuals, whether you’re a manager or a co-worker, to ensure employees get the support they need, when they need it.
As more teams work outside of the office, finding ways to keep everyone on the same page has become increasingly important. Encourage teams to work together by:
- Making project plans.
- Use messaging software to make it easy to get quick answers—and encourage teams to share fun, whether it’s an off-topic conversation in your messaging software or giving everyone an enjoyable gift like a smiling desk pen or phone stand.
- Use well-managed meetings to keep everyone on the same page.
- Check in with team members to make sure everyone’s needs are being met.
Online collaboration makes it possible for your team to work hand-in-hand—no matter how far they are from one another. By combining the right tools with the right procedures, your team will be able to do their best work no matter where they are.