Remote work has gone from being a unique incentive to becoming the norm. Now, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become a necessity. However, embracing the WFH lifestyle hasn’t been easy for all of us, as some managers are still struggling to overcome challenges related to operational efficiencies — with remote collaboration topping the list.
Getting your teams to band together is difficult as it is. When you throw physical distance into the mix, it becomes challenging on a whole different level. Therefore, the question is: How does one go about overcoming this challenge and reaping the business benefits of team collaboration?
Fortunately, it’s easier than you might think. By following a few best-practices, you can enable your teams to achieve smooth remote collaboration — which is exactly what we’ll be discussing in this post. Let’s dive in.
5 best practices for ensuring remote collaboration across different departments
Over the years, telecommuting has grown in popularity. In fact, according to Flexjobs, there has been a 44% rise in remote work over the last five years, and with good reason.
Remote work statistics indicate just how effective it can be in terms of efficiency and satisfaction. For instance, 85% of businesses in one survey reported seeing a rise in productivity due to increased flexibility.
As far as remote cooperation is concerned, here’s how you can increase collaboration between teams:
1. Equip your teams with the right tools
Before worrying about anything else, you need to ensure that your remote teams are equipped with the right set of tools.
Some of the popular ones include:
- Wrike – an online project management software with a wide range of remote collaboration features.
- Zoom – a video chat/conferencing tool that allows teams to bring a personal touch back into online meetings.
- CloudApp – allows for smooth communication between teams through screen recording, screenshots, and GIFs.
- G Suite – a collection of business tools that allow you to create online business documents and much more.
- TINYPulse – lets you run surveys, gather feedback, and measure the engagement levels of your remote employees.
While the tools listed above should be sufficient for any team, you can add more collaborative solutions to your stack.
2. Clearly define team schedules
When it comes to remote work, a common concern for most managers is availability. While a flexible schedule is a common side benefit that comes with working from home, it might not always be feasible for your teams. To ensure efficiency and smooth remote team collaboration, you’ll need clearly defined schedules.
This is not to say that you should insist your teams work for X amount of hours during a fixed time period without consulting them first. Instead, you should try to find different schedules that work for your team members, and then stick with it.
Start by asking the following questions:
- What are the different time zones that my employees are in?
- At what point do the time zones overlap in terms of working hours?
- Is it appropriate to reach out to employees during odd hours?
- What should be an appropriate/reasonable response time?
With the relevant information at your disposal, create different daily/weekly team schedules, where every relevant individual is available for collaborative meetings and one-on-one discussions.
3. Be crystal-clear when communicating
According to OWL Labs, brainstorming sessions are the most challenging for remote workers. After all, confusing and vague statements/requests are the most common roadblocks for creative collaboration.
When only communicating through emails, texts, comments, and native messaging tools, there’s an absence of body language and tone — leaving the messages open to interpretation.
This can result in small day-to-day hiccups or even mistakes that could derail an entire project. Therefore, it is critical all team members (managers and subordinates alike) be crystal-clear when drafting and relaying messages.
For starters, when drafting important emails/messages, leave no room for misunderstanding and never assume that the recipient knows the context of everything that you’re talking about. Additionally, it’s important to be clear on the urgency.
You can also create your own, native acronyms (together with your team members, of course) and use them for instantly relaying your messages.
4. Use different channels to communicate
As highlighted earlier, sticking to plain text for communication gets rid of the personal touch. This can take its toll on any collaboration. It doesn’t hurt to change things up from time to time by using different channels.
For example, instead of having a group chat with 100+ messages (most of which get lost within the clutter), have a video conference instead.
Use the appropriate channels for communication and tell your teams to do the same. For instance, if a certain manager needs something done on an urgent basis, email wouldn’t be an appropriate channel. Instead, it would be much wiser to communicate through an instant messaging app.
5. Take some time out for team building activities
The last addition to our list of remote team best practices is to focus on online team building activities. With team building, you can build camaraderie among your employees. Contrary to popular belief, close proximity is not a prerequisite.
Here are a few activities that you can try in order to boost remote collaboration:
- Virtual home tours
- Virtual show-and-tell
- On-call coffee sessions
- Multiplayer gaming
Ask your employees for suggestions and get creative.
Try Wrike and improve remote collaboration
With a few tweaks and the right tools, you’ll get your remote teams collaborating in no time. And Wrike can help!
Our platform helps businesses like yours foster higher productivity and seamless communication by breaking down silos and getting teams on the same page.
Sign up for a free trial and find out for yourself!