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Effective Collaboration in a Remote Environment

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Job hunting is not an easy task. You need to consider how you’re going to be dressed for the interview, get familiar with the company and its culture, and respond to their questions with ease. Most HR professionals vary in their sets of questions, but one feels almost like a constant: are you a team player?

Almost every job out there asks for cooperation. Whether you like working with people, or you’re dreading shared responsibility, in the end, you can’t really escape it.

Luckily, modern times have made specific changes to traditional teamwork as we knew it. Things changed so much that even the word ‘teamwork’ became obsolete. Instead, more and more people use the term collaboration. Why?

The answer is simple – there is a world of difference between merely working together and collaborating. Collaborative activity is the magic word that enables people to come up with new and innovative ideas. Achieving effective collaboration is difficult in any environment, but especially in a virtual workspace because people also share different cultural and professional backgrounds. So, how do we achieve effective collaboration in a remote environment?

Think about what’s missing

Did you ever wonder why remote teams need new collaboration skills? In our virtual communication (texts, emails, conference calls) we lose body language. Emails can be wide open to interpretation to the point it can be very frustrating. Anxiety over this can cost you productivity, engagement, and innovation. That’s why remote teams should consider video calls instead of only chatting on Slack.

Take Advantage of Technology

If you are a remote worker, it doesn’t mean you don’t exist. With the digital communication tools and technology we have, we are able to transform remote workers into a cohesive and collaborative team. Take Slack for instance. The key to their success is that they are a low-pressure, fun way for team members to keep in touch and work together wherever they are. There are plenty of options that enable the company to have and obtain healthy and open communication. And we will just name a few: Slack, Asana, and Google Meetups for conference calls.

Don’t bombard your team with messages

How do you follow up on a task? Is it by email, text, or phone call? Do you tend to ask your coworkers if they got your previous message? Don’t overdo it. Abusing any of those digital instances we use in our everyday communication may lead to anxiety and frustration.

Establish communication norms

Establishing communication norms is essential in order to work effectively in a virtual environment. This way, you will ensure that all is clear among your team members and avoid misunderstandings. Did you know that companies like Merk have acronyms for their digital communication like Four-hour response (4HT) and No need to respond (NNTR) which brings some predictability and certainty to their virtual conversation?

Set up a virtual “water cooler”

In an office, you get to know all your co-workers quickly because you spend most of your week together. However, things change when you’re working remotely. Setting up a virtual “water cooler”, by creating an online space (a chat room, Facebook group) for sharing non-work related and fun content will help people get to know each other better and establish relationships. It also helps reduce the feeling of distance between team members and creates a sense of community.

Make time for team buildings

Team building can be hard to organize. Especially if you have a team of remote workers scattered around the globe. But they are quite efficient. A sense of membership and belonging is in our nature, and one-day trips or virtual game competitions can bring team members closer.

Times have changed, and we need to change the way we function in a working environment. We’re not limited by space anymore and even the same time zone is not a norm. That’s why we need to come up with new solutions regularly and redefine business models as we go. We have given you a few tips for effective collaboration in a remote environment, and we hope they will help you work more productively.

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