The pandemic forced many workers to perform their jobs out of their makeshift home offices. Since then, the modern workplace has witnessed a tremendous shift in how we perceive work and the dynamics of collaboration.
Employees got a taste of the work-from-home (WFH) lifestyle, and they liked it. With zero commute times and greater flexibility, remote work has become the new norm. Employers also realized they could expand their team outside their local talent pool thanks to the new WFH model.
However, working with a strictly remote team has some challenges — fostering collaboration and maintaining unity amongst a team in multiple time zones and even continents is complex.
Although digital tools have been released in record time to help transcend these communication barriers, it still requires effort to pick the right tools, use them well, and keep your team engaged.
An engaged team is a productive team
It can be easy to assume that a quiet team is happy. But, more often than not, the opposite is true.
In fact, only 32% of employees are engaged at work.
According to the latest Gallup study on employee engagement, an engaged team leads to 18% higher productivity and 23% higher profitability.
A separate Gallup poll also concluded that more engaged employees are less likely to seek employment elsewhere. Considering that it costs approximately 400% of an entire year’s salary to replace a specialized worker, keeping your current team happy through productive collaboration is a good idea.
So, while you might think your remote team is happily clicking away on their keyboard in the privacy of their home or favorite coffee shop, they could be planning their exit because they feel disconnected from their team.
It pays to put in the effort to keep your team happy and foster collaboration in a remote working environment.
Effectively collaborate with a remote team
Effective communication is the foundation of any successful relationship, especially when dealing with fully remote team members who live in multiple time zones. Below are some strategies to help keep your team connected and inspired regardless of their geographic location.
Use collaboration tools
Whether you use ClickUp, Asana, or Monday, a project management tool is essential to keep your team connected. Pick one that works best for your team’s working style and ensure everyone is comfortable using the tool.
Your collaboration tool should make it easy to share ideas and communicate in real time, allow for video conferencing, and seamlessly track projects so no one on your team feels left out.
Set communication expectations
Setting communication guidelines up front is critical to help manage expectations and ensure everyone on your remote team is on the same page.
What’s urgent to one person may not be to another. And while one person is impatiently waiting for a response from someone because it’s 10 am in their timezone, it might be 10 pm for their coworker.
Setting realistic boundaries for response times and availability for virtual meetings can be overcome using shared calendars and time blocking. This collaborative communication will help team members understand their coworker’s schedules and priorities for projects when they are offline.
Lastly, diligently using a preferred communication channel like Slack or Teams will ensure everything runs smoothly.
Leverage sales coaching for skill development
Sales coaching is for more than those working in the sales industry. It’s valuable in helping nurture any workforce’s skills and capabilities, including remote team members.
Keep in mind that remote teams are no different from in-person teams.
Whether you communicate via live video from your home office, in a boardroom, or around the water cooler, your team’s personalities and communication styles will vary significantly. There will always be those comfortable sharing their ideas and concerns and those who shy away from perceived confrontation or discomfort.
Sales coaching can address these individual personality differences by teaching people to speak up and communicate their needs positively. It can also inadvertently boost morale and foster a sense of growth and development within the team.
Take advantage of artificial intelligence (AI)
AI can revolutionize collaboration within remote teams by providing intelligent solutions such as content translations, real-time language translation, transcription services, and meeting assistants that automate note-taking and action item tracking. These features are particularly beneficial if your team works from around the globe and English isn’t everyone’s native tongue.
These tools can offer remote workers instant support like scheduling meetings, quick access to information, and automating routine tasks.
Embrace the power of collaboration with your remote team
The shift to remote work has undeniably transformed the modern workplace. As with most change, it presents opportunities and challenges, especially for team collaboration. Effective collaboration in a remote working environment requires deliberate strategies, clear communication channels, and leveraging innovative technologies such as AI.
However, it is essential to remember collaboration extends beyond technology.
Building strong and connected remote teams is vital to nurturing virtual relationships, fostering a sense of shared purpose, and promoting a positive team culture. Regular virtual team-building activities, open communication, and recognizing individual contributions help foster a collaborative mindset and strengthen team bonds.