Tips, Strategies, and Tools to increase collaboration in a remote work environment
The shift to remote work has reshaped the way teams collaborate, presenting both opportunities and challenges. One of the biggest hurdles remote teams face is the risk of silos forming within the workforce, leading to disconnected team members and inefficiencies.
In this blog post we share actionable tips, strategies, and tools you can use to enhance collaboration among remote employees while keeping the dreaded silos at bay.
Cultivate a Culture of Open Communication
Creating an environment where remote employees feel comfortable sharing ideas and concerns is fundamental. Consider these examples:
- Daily Stand-up Meetings: Host brief daily meetings (15-20 minutes depending on the size of the team) where team members share their goals for the day and any challenges they anticipate. This simple practice encourages transparency, teamwork and rapport.
- Feedback Fridays: Dedicate a day each week for open feedback discussions, allowing remote employees to freely express their thoughts and suggestions. To enhance the sense of ‘team’, don’t hand them the answers on a silver plate -let them come up with possible solutions!
Embrace Video Conferencing Tools
Video conferencing tools are the bridge to face-to-face interactions in a remote world. A couple of ideas on how you could commandeer them to improve collaboration amongst remote teams:
- Monthly Team Huddles: Schedule monthly video meetings that allow team members to not only discuss work but also share personal updates and create a more connected atmosphere.
- Interactive Workshops: Conduct workshops via video conferencing to brainstorm ideas, encourage creativity, and build stronger relationships among team members.
Leverage Project Management Software
Project management tools are lifelines for remote collaboration. Here are two examples of how they can be employed:
- Task Assignments and Deadlines: Use these tools to assign tasks and set deadlines. For instance, in Trello, you can create a board for each project, add cards for tasks, and set due dates.
- Real-time Progress Tracking: With tools like Asana or Monday.com, teams can keep a close eye on project progress in real-time, ensuring everyone is aligned.
Establish Clear Communication Channels
Ambiguity is the enemy of collaboration. Lead by example and employ strategies like these:
- Chat Applications for Quick Queries: Mobile-friendly platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams are great for quick questions and casual conversations. Create channels for different topics or teams.
- Email for Formal Communications: Using chat applications is great but not for everything. Use email for official documents and formal communications, ensuring clarity and accountability.
Encourage Cross-Functional Collaboration
Cross-functional collaboration is key to breaking down departmental silos. Drawing up from our own experience at LMW as well as working with remote-first companies for many years, here are our top-two suggestions:
- Interdepartmental Brainstorming Sessions: Organise regular sessions where members from different departments come together to brainstorm solutions or explore new ideas.
- Cross-Functional Teams: Form teams that include members from various departments to work on specific projects, promoting diversity of thought and skills.
Implement Knowledge Sharing Platforms
Effective knowledge sharing prevents silos. Consider these actions:
- Centralised Document Repositories: Use Google Drive, Microsoft SharePoint, or Confluence to create centralised repositories for documents and resources. In doing so, remember that branding and user experience (UX) can help accelerate adoption.
- Documentation Best Practices: Encourage employees to follow documentation best practices, making it easier for everyone to access and understand shared information. Regular introductory and refresher tutorials will be helpful. You might also want to start a competition for your ‘Best Practice Ambassador’ of the month or quarter.
Provide Training and Resources
Equipping remote employees with the right skills and knowledge is vital. Here are some examples on how you can achieve this:
- Workshops on Collaboration Tools: Regularly host workshops on using collaboration tools effectively, showcasing practical tips and tricks. Here too, acknowledging a ‘Collaboration Star’ on regular intervals might help promote adoption.
- Accessible Tutorials: Maintain a library of tutorials and guides, such as “How to Run an Effective Virtual Meeting” or “Maximising Productivity with Project Management Software.”
Foster Team Building Activities
Building relationships among remote employees is crucial for collaboration. You can create opportunities like these, but sky’s the limit! Ask your employees what they’d consider an engaging activity:
- Virtual Escape Rooms: Organise team-building activities such as virtual escape rooms or online trivia games.
- Volunteering Together: Encourage team members to participate in virtual volunteering activities, promoting a sense of shared purpose. And remember to ask them to take photos or videos to share in your corporate community and/or social media platform.
Emphasise Results Over Presence
Measuring performance based on outcomes, not hours worked, is vital in remote settings. Using these approaches will be a good start:
- Outcome-Oriented Goals: Set clear, outcome-focused goals and regularly review progress toward achieving them.
- Trust-Based Work: Trust your employees to deliver results and focus on their work-life balance, promoting a healthier work environment.
Create Opportunities for Face-to-Face Interaction
While remote work has many advantages, occasional face-to-face interaction can be invaluable. Here are some ways to make it happen:
- Annual Retreats: Plan an annual retreat where remote employees can meet in person, build stronger bonds, and strategize for the future.
- Regional Meetups: Organise smaller, regional meetups for teams or departments to connect face-to-face periodically.
Collaboration among remote employees is a multifaceted endeavour that requires a combination of strategies, tools, and a strong cultural foundation. By fostering open communication, embracing technology, and implementing the strategies discussed here, you can create a cohesive and productive remote work environment. Remember that collaboration is an evolving process, so remain open to feedback and continually adapt your approach to meet your team’s evolving needs. Ultimately, breaking down silos and enhancing remote collaboration will not only benefit your organisation but also empower your remote employees to thrive.