How to Increase Collaboration in Remote Teams

by Josh Biggs in Business on 5th May 2020

In a highly competitive business world, it’s only right if you put technological advancement to your advantage. Remote businesses are one great example of how to use the latest trends for the benefit of your business

Remote businesses are free of boundaries. Regardless of the investment size or workspace, the business can flourish with the help of employees who work from home.

Considering that this business approach is lately becoming a necessity, it’s natural to look for ways to make your team collaborate just as efficiently as if they were sitting in the same room.

Managing remote teams, however, comes with a specific set of challenges. If you’re new to managing remote workers or just want to get more out of your team efforts, read on to get to know some of the most common challenges along with easy solutions to tackle them.

Managing time zones

Although many remote employees work on their own schedule, there are times when a virtual meeting or group task demands that the employees work at the same time.

Managing time zones can be a major challenge. If you’re working with employees from various parts of the world, a lot of compromises have to be made.

The best way to manage this issue is to group people who work in similar time zones. If that isn’t possible, go for a time when most members are available.

You can also offer incentives to the employees who choose to work at a difficult time so that the rest of the team stays comfortable. So, here’s what you can do:

  • Let this employee select the time for another meeting
  • Give them the chance to decide on another aspect of the task
  • Allow them to join in later or leave earlier from the virtual meeting

Once every team member has agreed to attend the scheduled meeting, it’s time to over-communicate the timings you have set for the meeting.

Since none of them are a few desks away from yours, reminding them about the scheduled meeting will help them realize the importance of this virtual get-together. A quick way to do this is to send a reminder email to them.

Scheduling virtual meetings and making it a consistent practice requires some extra efforts, though. Since your employees are working remotely, they deserve appreciation for attending virtual meetings even if their time zones do not match yours.

Make them realize that you’re aware of their efforts. All you need to do is send a thank-you email. That way, you’ll notice an increased level of motivation.

Overcoming tech issues

The entire work solely depends on technology in a remote business. If you were in a brick and mortar office and one day the internet wasn’t working, you could still probably hold meetings and make use of time in some way.

Unfortunately, remote businesses cannot operate unless every single employee has access to fast equipment. This is why the biggest challenge in remote businesses is related to some sort of tech hurdle.

What you can do is schedule a training session for all your employees first thing after they are hired. While some employees may be well-versed in tech maintenance, others will need some help even with basic operations and setup.

Teaching them how to troubleshoot most common issues or how to spruce up their PCs using MSConfig will eliminate the need for IT support, boost their confidence, provide them with new skills, and enable them to overcome any potential delays quickly.

Additionally, depending on the type of your business, you may be using specialized software for your daily operations. If there are more users, make sure the employees know how to use it properly so as not to cause delay, damage, or loss to someone else’s work.

You can have all team members come together and exchange feedback and insight on best practices, useful hacks, and common issues.

Similarly, give your employees basic level knowledge to overcome connectivity issues. Make use of project management software to streamline communication.

If your business is new to remote work and didn’t have much time to prepare and train employees, it’s logical that there will be tech issues.

If possible, you can collaborate with a local IT care company. Your employees can get in touch with these people whenever needed to resolve tech issues instantly.

Depending on the number of employees and their locale, collaborating will be way more cost-effective than hiring a whole team. However, you can weigh the ups and downs to decide what is best for your needs.

Lastly, don’t neglect regular cybersecurity training. As tech is progressing, so are the ways for it to be misused. Make cybersecurity an ongoing conversation within your business.

Everyone needs to have access to the same tools

It’s no surprise that remote work is increasingly becoming feasible for many businesses. However, this doesn’t mean that remote teams need a single technological platform.

Each team member might have a unique job description, which is why it makes sense to let them have access to the tools that are highly relevant to their jobs for collaborating with other team members.

“Calendar” is one such example. You can use this scheduling tool to collaborate with all of your team members while reminding them when exactly you’ve scheduled a virtual meeting.

Besides, you can collaborate with the entire team by using “Skype Meetings” for web conferencing and screen sharing. This is a valuable technological tool in terms of training a remote workforce.

Even if you’re looking for a casual conversation tool where everyone can enjoy a 30-minute break time, go for “Slack” and get every team member involved.

A good practice to adopt is to create a central knowledge base where all your employees will have access to business process descriptions, relevant checklists, documents, tutorials, contacts, links to online tools, etc.

Include anything that they might need to complete their job, so they don’t have to interrupt work for emailing back and forth.

Building relationships

One requirement for pretty much every business is that the employees work in collaboration. Even if they have separate designated domains to work in, an overall sense of teamwork has to be maintained.

It’s just like the mechanism of a car. Even though the tires have a completely different task to perform than the engine, they have to work in collaboration for the car to commute successfully.

This collaborative environment comes in businesses with the help of healthy relationships. Just because your business is remote doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put in the effort to build employee relationships.

Encourage things like video calls, icebreakers, and occasional face-to-face meetings if possible. This will allow the employees to get to know one another in a way that helps them work as a team.

Keeping it fun

Virtual teams tend to have almost no fun in their work. You should set aside some time from within the working hours in which all team members can do something fun.

Working remotely can get lonely. Maintaining strong ties to the team helps to battle disengagement and loss of motivation, and boosts team productivity.

Things like virtual birthdays, holiday-themed meetings, and other fun stuff will keep the employees connected and satisfied even when they’re physically miles away.

The takeaway

At the end of the day, where there’s a will, there’s a way. If you’re determined to make your remote business a success, you can find out solutions for every possible challenge.

With the help of advanced tools that are easy to use and available online, you can get rid of any obstacles that come your way.

Stay motivated and keep your remote team trained so that you can achieve more than what you expect from your remote business!

Ashley Wilson is a digital nomad and writer for hire, specialized in business and tech topics. In her self-care time, she practices yoga via Youtube. She has been known to reference movies in casual conversation and enjoys trying out new food. You can get in touch with Ashley via Twitter.

Categories: Business