Remote working presents numerous benefits to both employers and employees, such as increased productivity, reduced carbon emissions, reduced travel time and reduced operational and infrastructure costs.
Remote employment can present a challenge in terms of collaborative working, as it eliminates the possibility of face-to-face interaction. As such, it is important for leaders to identify innovative solutions to maintain and develop team cohesion, as effective collaboration is critical to business success. To this end, we have compiled a selection of the most effective resources and techniques for productive remote teamwork.
Here are 5 resources that may help you work together remotely more effectively.
1. Instant Messaging Programs
An effective way to improve communication is to utilise a chat application such as Slack, WhatsApp, or a similar programme. These systems can be used to communicate with an individual or a large group of people through various channels, and they also allow for file transfers.
It is important to ensure that workers are not overwhelmed with notifications. Doing so could lead to a stressful and difficult environment. To avoid this, direct messages or more tailored channels should be used instead of posting information to a general channel that is only relevant to a small group of people.
2. Integrated Office Suites
Full productivity suites, such as Google Suite and Microsoft Office Teams, offer a plethora of tools that are essential for the efficient management of a business and the promotion of greater collaboration. Microsoft Office Teams, for example, includes Microsoft Word for word processing, Microsoft Excel for spreadsheets, Microsoft Outlook for email, and Microsoft PowerPoint for presentations. This suite of software is not only beneficial for personal productivity, but also highly advantageous for teamwork.
Microsoft Office Teams is a cloud-based productivity suite that enables simultaneous collaboration, allowing multiple users to view and modify the same file, such as an Excel spreadsheet, simultaneously. This ensures that everyone is viewing the most up-to-date version. Comparable capabilities are also provided by the Google Suite.
3. Tools for Managing Projects
Tools specifically designed for managing projects and tracking their progress can be a great time-saving measure for both you and your staff, if you are not already making use of them. Software such as Trello, Jira, Monday, Wrike and more can help you visualise the phases, assign tasks, set deadlines, give feedback, and much more.
These resources offer more than just enhanced collaborative capabilities. Furthermore, their extensive tool sets, features and customizations can be adjusted to suit your business’s specific needs, aiding in improved project management.
4. Online Data Storage Services
Google Drive, which we often utilise, is already hosted on the cloud. By storing data on the cloud, we can offer all members of the team immediate access to the data they require, whilst simultaneously enhancing security and enabling real-time collaboration. Cloud storage solutions make it possible to comment and view documents during meetings in a synchronised manner.
5. Systems for Online Meetings
It is essential to include video conferencing software when creating a comprehensive list of remote collaboration tools. Video conferencing apps such as Zoom and Skype have become integral to everyday life, enabling teams to hold weekly meetings, exchange information and updates, and make presentations. Video conferencing is essential for keeping everyone connected and informed.
Methods that work together yet separately for remote teamwork
Despite employing the latest technologies to facilitate communication and collaboration among distributed teams, an increase in output may not be realised without the adoption of best practices.
6. Develop a Protocol for Working from Home
When your team is dispersed across different time zones, it is important to set common standards for them to adhere to. As a manager, it is your responsibility to ensure these standards are clearly communicated and understood.
It is advisable to take into account the availability and schedules of everyone involved when arranging meetings. Where possible, all asynchronous communication options should be explored before opting for a group video call. Email and instant messaging are now favoured solutions for addressing issues, as opposed to in-person gatherings.
7. Define Boundaries
Working collaboratively is more than just communication and sharing tasks. Respect for the privacy of others is also essential, particularly in the online world. With remote working, the boundaries between personal and professional life can become blurred, as people’s homes may now be their offices and it can be difficult to switch off.
It is crucial to establish clear boundaries with your team. To help your staff avoid exhaustion and achieve a healthier balance between their work and personal lives, you might consider introducing a policy such as “no work emails after 6 pm”.
8. Be Specific About Your Expectations
When you are unable to be physically present to monitor your team’s progress, it is easy to miss important details. To ensure increased cooperation and efficiency, it is important to set and communicate expectations for how the remote working situation should be managed. Outline the processes, routines and methods you require to effectively reach your objectives of improved efficiency and team performance.
As an example, it is important to be aware of when team members are leaving for the day and when they are expected to return. Rather than becoming frustrated if staff do not adhere to this, it is important to explain the situation calmly.
9. Observe the Faults
It is common for problems to arise, especially when utilising a new technology or one that is not often used. Whilst it is understandable to feel frustrated when things do not go as expected, it is important to create a collaborative and productive atmosphere. To do this, it is advisable to allocate additional time to account for any technical issues and to explain the team’s procedure for handling any malfunctions.
When presenting, it can be beneficial to factor in some additional time to allow for any necessary changes or technical issues. This will ensure that any issues that arise can be dealt with without feeling overwhelmed.
10. Give Them Lots of Help and Materials
Working from home for the first year may be challenging for many employees. To ensure a successful outcome for the company, it is essential to provide staff with the necessary tools and support needed to collaborate and contribute. Do not delay providing these tools until staff make a specific request.
It would be beneficial to carry out a survey of employees to establish what resources they consider necessary to improve collaboration and produce high quality results.
It is clear that there is much to consider when aiming to become proficient in remote working. However, by using the suggested tools and approaches, you and your team could become more accustomed to this “new normal”.