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How To Successfully Navigate Remote Collaboration

  • Remote collaboration requires a different mindset than collaborating in an office.
  • Using the correct tools, and making sure your employees know how to use them well is key.
  • Making sure every employee knows their assigned roles, manages their time well, and avoids distractions is also essential to run collaborations smoothly.

Most businesses rely on their teams working together on projects. Working together, even while working remotely, is simply part of making sure business can go on as usual. Having the different members of your team sitting in their own houses rather than down the hall in an office or cubicle doesn’t have to change the quality of the work done. All it takes is a changed mindset and a few tools, and you’ll find that remote collaborations can indeed be successfully navigated.

Assign Roles

Be proactive in assigning roles and responsibilities to different team members. Small tasks that used to fall to whoever saw them first are things that need to be intentionally assigned when people are working remotely.

You also want to avoid duplicate efforts where several people are working on the same task, or worse, a task getting dropped entirely because everyone assumes that someone else is doing it. Putting expectations and responsibilities in writing will go a long way towards avoiding confusion between team members.

Use Good Time Management

One of the biggest perks of working remotely is the freedom for each individual team member to manage their own time without anyone looking over their shoulder. The biggest drawback to remote working is the same. If one part of the time struggles to manage their time effectively it can negatively affect projects, deadlines, and the relationship between team members.

You can’t make home visits to make sure team members are managing their time well, but you can offer online training on things like effective time management, working habits, and the use of time tracking tools.

Stay Productive

Productivity often suffers when team members need to work from home, and since that could potentially affect other team members working on the same projects, it’s important to address. Distractions are ripe when working from home and it can be difficult to ignore the surroundings and get into the same deep focus as is possible at the office.

There are several apps that can help with productivity, but sometimes a simple countdown timer can be enough to make sure you stay on task. Multitasking can reduce your overall productivity by as much as 40%, so even though it feels effective, you’ll want to avoid it. Try to work in shorter bursts rather than expect your brain to stay focused over several hours.

Train Employees

There’s no getting away from the fact that collaborating remotely is going to require using certain tools or web apps. Keep in mind that not everyone on your team will be equally tech savvy or intuitively know how to operate certain apps.

When using tools and web apps for your remote meetings, make sure that everyone feels confident using these apps. You don’t want to lose out on ideas that a team member couldn’t voice simply because they didn’t know how to unmute their microphone.

Use Synchronized Tools

If you have several team members working on the same file, make sure that you are using a tool that allows for synchronized, real-time updates so that there is no confusion about which version is the latest. This way there is no need to compare files to find out where the changes were saved.

Keep Cultural Differences In Mind

With everyone working remotely, bringing on talents from other parts of the world is easier than ever. If you are working with team members from other countries, keep in mind that things like work ethics, communication styles, business etiquette, or social conventions may differ from those of your own culture.

It’s always best to be open minded and clear about expectations on both sides. If you are working with varying degrees of English proficiency be respectful and resolve the inevitable misunderstandings in a respectful way. Always remember that ability to speak English in no way reflects a person’s skills or intelligence, and make sure to clarify that non-native English speakers are free to ask for clarifications without repercussions.

Schedule Regular Check-ins

Since dropping by someone’s office is impossible when they’re not right down the hall, make sure that regular check-ins and updates on projects still happen. Instead of sending emails asking for updates, consider having a set time and app where updates are posted.

Wrapping Up

There are lots of challenges with remote work, and even more so when several people working remotely need to work together. Thankfully, since remote working is becoming mainstream, so are the many solutions to the challenges this work style brings. Collaborating with a team that is a spotty internet connection away from not hearing you, may not always be a top choice, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t many great remote collaborations in your future.

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