9 Important Remote Collaboration Tips for Business Owners and Managers
There are glaring differences between managing teams on-site and those who work remotely.
The time difference can be hard to manage. Away from the physical office environment, employees can develop detachment from the company. It can also result in less accountability and loyalty.
Unless you’re up for this immense shift, you’ll have a tough time getting things done with your team.
Remote collaboration is not only a temporary solution to the current global crisis. In fact, 78% of CEOs in a survey conducted by PwC agree that remote collaboration is here to stay long-term.
Allow us to make the transition easy for you. The tips we present here will help you manage your remote workers with little to no stress.
Before that, though, it’s paramount to understand what remote collaboration is. This will help get you up to speed about this new approach.
What is Remote Collaboration
Remote collaboration can be defined as a process where team members work together, regardless of their location, to achieve organizational goals.
How do you bridge the gap between time zones and geographical locations? Aside from the internet, there are several specific software tools you can use.
Regardless of where your workers are, you can opt to collaborate remotely. It will help you achieve organizational time-sensitive goals.
For the workers, it eliminates the stress from daily commutes. It allows them to perform their tasks better, 100% of the time.
Remote collaboration sounds liberating for everyone in the organization. However, challenges must be overcome before making it more effective than working on-site.
Is there trust between you and the workers? Will your workers remain aligned with your company’s goals? These are only a few of the factors you need to address.
Let’s delve deeper into these challenges. You’ll discover how to overcome them with these tips on how to improve remote collaboration amongst your remote team.
Challenges of Managing Remote Workers
Working from remote locations can create a disconnected environment if not managed right. It could stain the trust between managers and employees. Some of the challenges are:
- The lack of face-to-face contact can hamper the information you’d like to convey
- It can be hard to gather the entire team together because of the different time zones
- With no on-site interaction, employees may feel disconnected from the company
- Working without direct supervision may affect productivity, not in a positive way
Managing remote employees may not be as easy as doing it the traditional way. However, once you get used to it, you’ll find more time and freedom to work on other business aspects.
Here are nine tips on how to improve remote collaboration effectively if your team is working remotely, or if you have an offshore team:
1. Align with The Right Kind of People
In situations where it’s impossible to meet in person, collaborating online is the way to go. However, not everyone has the necessary ability to thrive in remote work conditions.
Some people flourish in a shared office environment. Yet, they have limited capabilities in adapting to a work-from-home setup.
Your virtual team must comprise the right individuals. They must be able to work without any direct personal supervision. They must all have excellent skills in communication as well as doing remote work.
Put together a team of the right people aligned with your company goals. They can provide the same result, if not better, as workers in a shared office space.
2. Choose Optimal Tools for Remote Collaboration
Having the best virtual team is not enough. For your virtual collaboration to be successful, you need to use the right tools as well.
The latest technological advancements offer many choices that are perfect for remote teamwork. Dropbox Business, Office365 and Google Workspace are remote collaboration tools you can use. They are perfect for collaborating on documents, spreadsheets, and other media.
There are also several choices for virtual meeting rooms like Zoom. However, the most crucial aspect you shouldn’t neglect is remote access to cloud storage.
Dropbox Business is one of the best collaboration tools for remote teams, in our opinion. It provides an optimal and seamless remote cloud storage and file sharing solution. Its Dropbox Paper feature also provides a way for the team to collaborate on a whiteboard-style document.
What other remote collaboration tools should you use?
- Communication tools like: Slack, Mattermost, Facebook Workspace
- Project/task Management tools like: Asana, Trello, Basecamp
3. Comprehensive Remote Training for Your Staff
Staff training becomes more paramount when your employees work from home. You need company-specific pieces of training. You also need to make sure that everyone has the proper knowledge to use collaboration tools.
Make sure to update your onboarding process. It should include training on remote software usage and best practices. This can help new employees adapt faster to remote collaboration processes.
Take this tip further by making job-specific training available to your remote team. If trainer interaction is not a necessity, distribute training videos they can watch. This eliminates training attendance issues because of conflicts with their work schedule.
(At Web Imp, we make use of Dropbox Business’ unlimited storage to save all training videos and meetings)
4. Try to avoid Scheduling Volleys
Scheduling volleys happen when you and the member you’re talking to keep changing dates for a meeting. While it may appear harmless at first, you may end up having to push everything back to accommodate for the meeting. There won’t be a guarantee that the meeting will happen, too.
For the sake of time management and productivity, make the meeting happen as soon as the parties involved are available. Leave them a simple message and wait for their response. As soon as they reply, give them a call and get the meeting started.
This way, there’s no time wasted by rescheduling. It also helps increase remote work productivity within your team.
5. Conduct Regular Debrief Meetings
Virtual meetings don’t always have to be about setting goals or assigning tasks. These formal online gatherings are efficient in setting the stage for your remote teams. However, it would be best if you made sure that you also address their concerns.
Debrief meetings can help maintain and improve team relationships. This allows team members to:
- Share updates
- Share solutions to challenges
- Check on progress
- Ask questions
It’s a time for them to ask questions specific to the projects. You can also discuss items that affect the entire team’s performance.
These meetings don’t have to be a daily routine. A regular bi-monthly schedule should be enough.
Everyone should be able to voice out their thoughts. Give them a chance to speak their minds by allotting a specific time for each team member. It will reduce feelings of isolation and boost team morale.
6. Set Boundaries and Limitations
With remote workers, team productivity is round-the-clock, with little to no downtime. However, time management and awareness can also be confusing. It could cause issues for everyone if you don’t handle it well.
Setting boundaries on response time and schedule can help a great deal. It eliminates the need to wake up in the middle of the night only to answer a non-urgent question. You won’t disappoint your team members if they don’t immediately hear from you.
You can set these limitations in two ways: time and type.
With time limitations, you create a scheduling matrix. It will show each of your team members’ availability, including yourself. The type limitation defines what messages you all can send past time availability.
7. Make Important Data Always Available
You need to make crucial information available all the time. It should be in line with setting boundaries and limitations.
The last thing you want to happen is to get woken up by a piece of project information your team needs. You also don’t want to wake up with a message that the project paused because of missing details.
To cover all bases, you need to ensure that there’s no information show-stopper:
- Make data available in a centralized location
- Set permissions on data access depending on roles
- Share employee schedules and availability
You might find this overwhelming. However, with the proper software tools, setting this up is a breeze. Dropbox Business can help you store all your team’s critical documents in one place, with permission settings to only allow access to the right people.
8. Use Video Chat
With the tools mentioned above, you’ll have access to a video option to use during meetings and collaborations. Doing this allows you to engage more with your members and clients. It even allows you and your team to communicate better since everyone can focus on each other.
It’s even a great way to pacify aggressive clients or team members. Videos work a lot like mirrors, allowing someone to see them as they act. This provides them with a degree of self-awareness that can help them evaluate their behavior during the meeting.
Video chat improves remote collaboration because now your team sees a human behind the screen, instead of just a faceless avatar.
9. Encourage Members to Exercise
Remotely working from home can cause us to settle into a comfortable spot. Settling like such for extended periods of time can be bad for the health, and in turn, bad for remote work effectiveness.
Encouraging your members to exercise for a few minutes a day can be beneficial for work. Doing so has an impact on our mental and physical state, with the former helping with our workplace effectiveness.
This is because exercise releases hormones that help reduce your anxiety levels. It can even increase dopamine production, making everyone in the group feel more positive throughout the day.
Taking this a bit further, you can even host group exercises with your team via video chat. This provides a way of breaking down walls, giving a sense of friendship, and thus improving collaboration in remote teams.
Boost Efficiency With These Remote Collaboration Tips
We are confident these nine tips will provide you and your team members with effective remote collaboration. Applying them can help your team rise above the challenges. You can keep everyone aligned with your company goals, increase productivity, and stay happy.