The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic destabilized many businesses. Many employees were terminated from work and others were forced to work from their homes. Although there are several benefits to working remotely, not many knew how remote work and collaboration could be achieved and implemented.
Challenges With Remote Collaboration
These are some of the most common challenges people faced in adjusting to remote work:
- Unclear boundaries: when you're working remotely, maintaining the mindset to view your home as your new workplace can be difficult. Focusing during peak working hours could be a challenge, especially for individuals with little children.
- Decision-making difficulties: physical meetings allow more convenient brainstorming and deliberation of ideas, which can be hard to do with remote work.
- Culture breakdowns: creating an efficient work culture in an office takes time and effort. This becomes harder with remote work since everyone may want to do things at their own time and pace.
However, these challenges can be overcome by fostering an effective framework for remote work and collaboration. Making use of the following suggestions may help your team's productivity:
1. Constant Communication
Communication from the department heads and management is key in enhancing collaboration. By making them more frequent, you can make your team feel and sense the team spirit remotely. Send emails to your employees on updates of upcoming events. You can also email weekly or biweekly newsletters of what has been achieved so that your team can stay informed about how different departments are performing and what's expected of them moving forward.
Information should be disseminated promptly to avoid unnecessary delays. Apart from sending emails, you can also try faxing. Train your staff how to fax from a computer, as it eliminates the need for a fax machine. In fact, all you need for your eFax setup is an internet-connected device.
2. Mind The Time Zones
Every time you're requesting feedback, planning for a meeting, or assigning some client work, put into consideration the time zones of your colleagues. Their time zone can affect how they respond to and act on your messages or tasks. If you need something right away, you need to be keen not to send urgent work to a colleague whose workday is ending.
Keep track of appointments and meetings with a digital aid like an online calendar that can track them and send you notifications. In case you're all using the same online calendar, you can see the availability of your colleagues. Pass non-urgent communications to your colleagues politely when it's outside business hours.
3. Use Screen Sharing Software
If you want to excel in remote work and collaboration, an application that permits screen sharing is a must. In physical offices, colleagues can reach out to each other to show screens, collaborate, and troubleshoot problems, which isn't possible for remote teams.
This can be overcome with screen-sharing software which enables team members to see what the others are doing on their devices. Thus, you can do away with sending endless emails of documents back and forth. You don't have to worry about device compatibility when screen sharing. Technical errors can be easily resolved when individuals share their screens.
4. Define Roles And Responsibilities Clearly
Before flagging off any major project, ensure that it's clear to the entire team who does what. This will increase accountability and ensure that each one stays on track. Knowing what each one ought to do prepares your employees to take the necessary steps to accomplish their tasks. Well-defined roles and responsibilities guarantee that no task is left unattended. Thus, the project gets completed successfully.
5. Video Conferencing
With the social distancing protocols in many countries, video conferencing has become the alternative to face-to-face meetings between employers and employees. From daily video calls to weekly meetings, numerous meetings are now being held on Zoom and other similar platforms.
You can even turn on captions on live Zoom meetings for the members of your team who are deaf or have hearing difficulties. Captions in Zoom meetings encourage team engagement. In case someone misses some information, having something to read on the screen allows them to be on the same page as you. Live captioning may also ensure that work is done quickly and to higher standards.
6. Train Staff For Remote Work
Even though remote work is increasing in popularity, you may find that only a few people in your team are comfortable with it. Training gives your employees confidence. Some platforms and computer programs for remote work procured by the organization may require staff training so they can use them effectively.
Make sure that each employee can comfortably use digital solutions, file their work, and clearly understand remote etiquette and communication. This will facilitate smooth workflow.
A lesson that the COVID-19 pandemic taught the global community is that the future is impossible to predict fully. Working at home may continue for a while. Other businesses may opt to completely transition to remote working or have a majority of their employees work remotely. The above tips will give you ideas that you can implement to ensure business continuity when physical office work isn't possible.