Many companies have been doing remote work for some time now. But most haven’t yet optimized remote team collaboration.
Many businesses will remember 2020 as the year that forced them to go remote. And the reality is: Some have adapted more quickly than others.
While many managers feared the switch, citing fears over lost productivity, others embraced remote team collaboration. They recognized the trend that had been boiling under the surface for quite some time. In fact, what 2020 did was accelerate the ongoing changes already happening in the workplace.
The Workplace is Changing (And Has Been For a While)
As we look towards the post-coronavirus environment, we are likely to see more businesses adopt new ways of working. Those new methods will leave them better-suited to foster remote team collaboration. Those methods include management models based on trust, transparency, and more autonomy; digitization of all work; next-generation online tools for team communication, and; work management (more about this below).
For a long time, many have associated remote work with startups and tech companies. Indeed, our company Digicoop has operated as remote-first since our humble beginnings in 2015. While we do not expect more traditionally-structured companies to adopt a fully remote model – a hybrid one is more likely – we believe that businesses of all sizes can benefit from a more flexible environment.
Tried-and-Tested Tactics for Remote Team Collaboration
Whether you work with fully remote teams or your current model is a mixture of home and office working, there are five remote team collaboration tactics worthy of emulation. At Kantree, we started implementing these long before the pandemic began; we hope they will come in handy for your organization going forward.
1. Embrace a New Management Mindset, Company-wide
The changing, more distributed workplace requires an environment where employees take control of their processes. In other words: More trust and less micromanagement. This transition starts with the buy-in of everyone in the organization.
Within our team, which operates as a worker cooperative, we derive our approach from co-op values: Team collaboration, shared responsibility, self-management, accountability, and flexibility in terms of when and where you work.
When you hire the right people and trust them with such a high level of autonomy, teams will feel more invested in their work. They will produce better outcomes, allowing businesses to take full advantage of their skills and stay competitive.
2. Improve Communication with Synchronous & Asynchronous Tools
Once everyone gets used to operating remotely, the next crucial step in digital transformation and improving remote team communication is providing the right mix of digital tools. Without them, teams will be stuck with clunky spreadsheets, post-it notes, email overload, and the real productivity killers: excessive meetings.
What is the right mix? First, asynchronous tools (e.g., email or discussion boards) where team communication doesn’t occur simultaneously. Second, synchronous tools for real-time communication (instant messengers like Slack or Mattermost and video tools such as Zoom, Google Meet, or MS Teams). Lastly, flexible project management and work collaboration platforms like Kantree. These platforms enable teams to keep a pulse on their work from anywhere and at any time.
3. Digitize Work; Make it Accessible from Anywhere
Online work management platforms perform many functions. For instance, these platforms serve as project HQ for the whole distributed team: Remote, in the office, and on the go.
Kantree, for example, can replace spreadsheets and to-do lists. The platform also helps reduce email clutter with built-in tagging and project assignee features. And Kantree provides an overview of the work at hand (displayed as a kanban board, spreadsheet, timeline, calendar, or interactive checklist). Just as important for some, platforms like Kantree allow sharing chosen information with ‘external’ people, such as clients or other departments, limiting the need for conference calls. Teams can start any project instantly with workflow templates, from sales to IT to HR.
It’s important to remember that to ensure successful remote team collaboration, all work needs to be digitized, and everyone needs to be on board. Providing clear guidelines and training sessions at all levels while fostering a learning-oriented culture will help avoid frustration and reverting to old methods.
4. Encourage Self-Management and Accountability
Self-management in the remote business setting means two things: First, you are trusted by management to do your job and do it well, and; second, you trust yourself to organize your work in such a way as to stay productive and motivated.
In a company culture that encourages self-management, the project is the driving force and becomes “the boss.” The idea is that relaxing control-based management models will lead to a more engaged and content workforce, positively affecting the company’s bottom line and further growth.
5. Last But Not Least: Focus More on Employee Well-Being
More people than ever now work remotely (43% in the United States alone). That means many are still going through a period of adjustment. For some, it’s not an easy switch. This is especially true if you don’t have a quiet home office or need to juggle working remotely with homeschooling children.
Therefore, managers and teams must be empathetic and communicate openly about remote work challenges. Encouraging flexible hours, physical exercise, good nutritional habits (including proper lunch and work breaks) can help maintain employee well-being. Of course, this also helps keep employees engaged and performing at their best.
It’s Time to Do Remote Right
Digital transformation and fostering successful remote team collaboration don’t happen overnight. And, for many organizations, it may prove to be a daunting and time-consuming task. But with the right management approach, long-term strategy, and digital tools, building an effective remote team more than possible and is quickly done.
This post is sponsored by Kantree.