Three-quarters of employees see collaboration as an important part of any business. When pursued virtually, what can businesses do to ensure they achieve it?
Strong team collaboration is a cornerstone of success; it turns talent into innovation and sets a business apart from the competition. When employees come together and leverage their individual strengths towards becoming more impactful as a collective, teams are more engaged, not to mention more efficient and likely to use their initiative to innovate.
We know the countless benefits of collaboration. But how does a business achieve virtual collaboration? If employees aren’t physically located together, how can you ensure collaboration?
Here are nine tips for effective virtual collaboration.
- Encourage team members to share questions in a shared space.
- Partner people up for weekly check-ins.
- Have biweekly cross-team reviews.
- Schedule daily touchpoints.
- Kick-off each week with an overview of objectives.
- Make space for relationship-building.
- Assign moderators for every meeting.
- Have a clear and common purpose.
- Trust in one another.
What Does Team Collaboration Look Like in a Virtual Workspace?
The words ‘team collaboration’ instantly brings to mind groups of people in a room together, communicating effectively and working on a project in the same space. We don’t as easily consider distanced teams or groups of people that know little about each other, other than from a professional standpoint.
It’s no surprise we think this way as in the past, collaborative work relied heavily on physical spaces and physical tools. Yet, since the dawn of digitalisation, things have changed.
Now most of us are separated physically, collaboration is less about where we are and more about how we connect, both in a practical sense and on a human level.
It’s time to rethink what it means to work as a team and explore how to bring out collective creativity through new working methods. As a team leader, you can support this shift by encouraging a collaborative mindset in your remote team.
Tips to Promote a Collaborative Mindset
Ensuring a collaborative mindset within employees relies on several things. The first is ensuring all team members are connected properly within a shared collaborative digital workspace. After that, you can practise these three tips:
TIP #1: Encourage individual team members to bring questions forward in a shared space like a Teams channel or during a team meeting to spark group discussions.
TIP #2: If your team members tend to work independently, partner people up for a weekly check-in where they can bounce ideas and ask each other questions.
TIP #3: Have biweekly cross-team reviews where employees present the projects they’ve completed, ask each other questions and share ideas for what’s coming up.
Common Collaboration Challenges of Remote TeamsBefore we jump into solutions, it’s essential to understand what the problems are. We asked real managers about their current collaborative team challenges and have highlighted the overarching themes that came up. Plus, we’ve included tips on how to solve them.
Working in Silos
Whether or not it was the team’s dynamic in the office, many employees are working more independently from home. As a result, people struggle to maintain clear team communication, leading to a lack of visibility on what’s getting done.
TIP #4: Schedule a daily touchpoint at the start or end of the day where employees can run through what’s in the pipeline, flag any blockers and share progress.
Working remotely has led to a disconnect for many teams where it feels like people just aren’t on the same page and aligned around common goals. This is causing a scattered team to focus and a mismatch of priorities.
TIP #5: Kick-off every week with an overview of the team’s priorities and deliverables. Connect them with business objectives to keep everyone aligned and calibrated.
Strained Peer Relationships
On many teams, working relationships have dwindled with the loss of casual hallway chit-chat. This can impact everything from communication to employee morale and a sense of trust among peers.
TIP #6: Make space in the flow of work for relationship-building among peers. Start a meeting by having everyone share a highlight from their weekend.
Ensuring Everyone Is Heard
Even when the team is in a shared space, it can be challenging to make sure everyone gets the chance to speak. But jumping into a group discussion and bouncing ideas becomes even more challenging with the awkward delays and talking over one another that comes with video conferencing.
TIP #7: Assign a moderator for every meeting to keep track of who’s spoken and ensure everyone is heard. Have them ask questions to prompt participation without putting anyone on the spot. For example, they could ask, “Does anyone who hasn’t spoken up yet have a question or something to add?”
Keys to Successful Remote Teamwork
So, what can managers and teams do to adjust their collaboration efforts to fit their new reality? We spoke with our clients to understand further their success models to share with you.
TIP #8: Have a clear common purpose. Ensuring team alignment around the company mission, values and goals are extra important when employees are separated. This helps everyone know where to direct their collective focus and prioritise what they work on as a team.
TIP #9: Trust in one another. Trust comes up a lot in conversations around remote teamwork — trust between managers and employees and the trust between colleagues. First and foremost, you want to show your team members you trust them. From there, you can support them in building trust among themselves.
Although, as we've highlighted throughout this blog, effective virtual collaboration brings many benefits to remote teams—it also undoubtedly introduces challenges, not the least of all: compliance.
Working in a cloud environment is the future. It gives us flexibility and agility in our business and enables collaboration through decentralised file sharing and messaging systems. However, you'll need to manage the transition to cloud-based working to avoid tripping up over any common cloud compliance hurdles.
Yet, you don't have to do it alone.
Sit with a Microsoft Certified Consultant to review if your organisation is following best practices, across all of the ecosystem including, Microsoft Teams, Microsoft 365 and SharePoint. This ticks off the technical issues from your list, so you can put greater focus into areas essential to collaboration, such as team mindset and peer relationships.
Best of all—it's free. Just click on the link below to get started with your bespoke cloud review.