Remote Collaboration: A Useful Overview
The world finds itself thrust into an age of remote collaboration.
It’s almost become an expectation for companies to have a robust remote work policy, with a high risk of employee turnover being the alternative.
There are multiple reasons for connecting teams and team members remotely, but most relate to distance and schedule. After the pandemic, remote collaboration became daily to carry out the workplace’s day-to-day processes. The concept of working from home became more habitual.
What is remote collaboration?
Remote collaboration is the ability for a team to engage each other without being in the same physical location.
Remote collaboration only started becoming a real possibility with the emergence of tools like (fast) internet, cheaper phone costs, and cloud storage. Previously, it was almost impossible to reliably work remotely, which is why working in-office was the standard until recently.
Role of collaboration tools
Collaboration tools enable and boost teams’ ability to work together online. The tools include video conference calls, project management tools, file sharing, screen sharing, and other cloud-based apps.
Factors of remote collaboration
Following are the factors of Remote Collaboration:
Participation of the team
Remote collaboration is meaningless if the team members don’t participate or engage. The purpose of remote collaboration dies if the team members do not actively participate.
To ensure universal participation of the team members, you have to build a culture of accountability. The team leader or the project manager must address the following questions:
- Are some team members less active in remote collaboration as compared to others?
- Are there any side effects of a remote work environment?
- Are the team members taking remote collaboration seriously?
- Does the team feel empowered to give us feedback?
- Do we give the team what they need to succeed?
Work facilitators need to make sure that all the team members on both ends are participating. If there are any hurdles or issues, they must be identified and addressed accordingly.
Direct, individual meetings are a great way to boost participation. Similarly, to get everyone on the same page, you can host a company-wide webinar to explain why participation is important. Bonus if you can get feedback from the participants, and implement it to show that communication helps.
Accessibility of the team members in a working hour window
Accessibility of the team members is another significant factor for successful remote collaboration. It can be quite awkward when you await feedback from a specific team member but they are offline or away from their system. Hence, universal participation and access to communication with the team members is important.
Communication can be incredibly challenging if team members are in different time zones. To address this, you can try to coordinate shifts so there’s at least some overlap between teammates’ hours. Otherwise, it’s important to set up a system where your distant remote teammates still feel like they can participate.
An example of such a system would be having department or team leaders record update videos for the whole team. Then, depending on the size of your company, having direct feedback from the team, or using a survey would help get internal feedback.
Regularity in long-distance collaboration
The mandatory working hours can be a total waste if the team members are inconsistent or regular. Only habitual practices of regularity can lead to successful remote collaboration. The remote collaboration will certainly be meaningless if the team members skip the mandatory working hour window where the communication occurs.
Any team-based operation, especially at the remote collaboration level, requires the attendance of all the team members. Remote work environments are much more flexible than the standard 9 mandatory hours. Hence, regularity and attendance of the team members are expected. Just like accessibility, regularity makes sure that the remote collaboration is fruitful. In case, the team members do not attend the mandatory window of a couple of hours or remote collaboration, then its purpose will die. Only a remote collaboration that is facilitated well and done well will help the team members achieve long-term goals and objectives and create final products. Remote collaboration that is well-planned and well-executed will also allow the team members to discuss risks, conflicts, and other hurdles that may stand in the way of their goals.
It is the job of remote collaboration facilitators to consistently instill the factors of remote collaboration amongst the team members to make it fruitful instead of meaningless.
Benefits of Remote Collaboration
The benefits of remote collaboration are as follow:
- Most working styles can be accommodated in remote collaboration. People from different time zones, continents, offices, and homes can join and engage with other team members.
- Remote employees give suggestions and feedback about the project or the organization even when they are quite far away. They get involved in the decision-making as well.
- Remote collaboration encourages teamwork, and each individual focuses more on their role and duties instead of getting involved in the politics of the office.
- During the remote collaboration, the team members in the workplace or office and the team members at a distance communicate much more than usual. Due to this, their communication skills improve.
- Team members join remote collaboration from different parts of the world. They present different approaches to be adopted for the successful execution of projects instead of the traditional methods being adopted in an office setting.
- Remote collaboration saves resources of the organization by reducing the amount of working space.
- The opportunity of remote work attracts bright minds across the globe. The talented individuals don’t have to worry about their physical presence.
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