Pre-coronavirus, remote working sceptics feared that their staff wouldn’t be able to collaborate as effectively from home as they could from the office, thinking that people had to be in the same room as each other to work together.
Now that we’re in the midst of a lockdown, the situation has forced the remote working enthusiasts, naysayers, and everyone in between to work from home. The result? We’re finding that collaboration from afar is entirely possible and even fruitful. And this is all thanks to the advancements in communication and collaboration tech.
Indeed, video conferencing apps have taken off by a storm in recent weeks as everyone is trying to maximise (virtual) face time, and has certainly been instrumental in helping staff feel connected. But as far as collaboration goes, slow internet connections that break up conversations mid-way through, background noise from your dog/partner/baby, and the distraction of checking if your hair looks OK in video meetings (or is that just me?) make it difficult to stay focussed and actually get work done.
Video calls are great at what they do – helping people keep in touch, attend meetings, and check in. For remote collaboration to really thrive, however, it needs to be supported by tools that are dedicated to this very purpose.
Dedicated collaboration software will help your remote teams work together whilst they work apart. These tools empower dispersed teams to work asynchronously, giving everyone the opportunity to contribute their thoughts and expertise, at any time. Collaboration software also gives you a digital paper trail of important conversations, which can easily get lost during endless video meetings.
Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of collaboration software, and help keep collaboration alive within your remote teams:
Orchestrate ‘casual collaborations’
Sometimes the best collaborative moments happen spontaneously by the coffee machine, but given this isn’t possible right now, you need to get a little creative in how you engineer these encounters from afar.
Using collaboration tools, you can create dedicated spaces for ‘casual collaborations’ between teams. Giving your staff room to express ideas, recommend books or TED Talks, or share a link to an inspiring article they just read, will bring different perspectives together and spark innovative insights.
Create different channels for different conversations
Smart collaboration software provides the tech to build themed conversation channels. Yet a common mistake is to create one channel called ‘General’, and let the comments flood in. Doing this means you risk losing important feedback amongst all the noise.
Instead, make use of the technology on offer by building channels for each department, team, topic, project, or conversation. The more specific you can get, the more focussed the discussions.
Having dedicated channels will also encourage staff engagement, because teams can easily spot conversations that interest them the most or where they hold the most knowledge.
Use collaboration tools to make every meeting productive
For a truly productive meeting, you should always create a record of what was discussed, list any action points, and set a date to follow-up. Otherwise, it can get really tricky to keep track of progress or invite further feedback.
Get into the habit of capturing this information in your collaboration software after every meeting. Doing so makes sure important conversations don’t get lost, gives people the chance to ask any follow-up questions, and helps you keep knowledge organised.
You can also add and assign tasks to your staff within each conversation channel. This is handy when you have action items that need to be completed by certain employees by a certain date, whilst keeping all related information in one place.