The changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused in all aspects of our lives are something that no one could have predicted. From staying inside and minimizing our social interactions all the way to switching to working from home, there is a lot we need to adjust to. And while some companies have found a great way to cut overhead costs with the work-from-home agenda, some teams and departments are finding it hard to continue working and collaborating the way they used to. While the physical distance certainly makes it more difficult to keep up the same level of collaboration as before, there are ways in which you can make your team feel more connected and collaborate more effectively. Here are a few pieces of advice for remote working teams.
Work can only be done productively if one has the right equipment. This might not have been a problem thus far – after all, everything was at your employees' disposal at their office. Now, that they have moved home, though, the situation might be different. If your employees are using their personal phones and computers for work, it is time to change this. Not only is their work-life balance at risk this way, but their personal devices might not be appropriately equipped either. It might mean an investment from your side, but ensuring your employees have all the right equipment at home that will allow them to collaborate is a must. In addition, ensuring a stable and fast internet connection is an absolute necessity if you want to avoid issues and frustration when doing video calls.
Workplace meetings have a bad rap. Long, mandatory meetings were often dubbed as a waste of time for most employees, taking away time from more productive tasks. However, now that the quick exchanges in halls and at lunch have disappeared, meetings have gained a newfound significance in the daily schedule of a remote work collective. Some employers have found scheduling more frequent short meetings to make up for the lack of in-person communication to be effective in making employees feel less isolated. Others still believe in minimizing meetings as much as possible to keep productivity levels high. Therefore, how frequent meetings should be will depend on your employees and the way they work. Rather than group meetings, you might find 1:1 meetings more efficient in some cases. While it might take a bit more effort to schedule meetings with your colleagues in an online environment, make sure you do hold some informal meetings as well, such as a virtual lunch, to nurture relationships as well as your company culture.
In the beginning, we already talked about the importance of having the right equipment. However, what you also need to think about is the right virtual tools that facilitate communication and collaboration. Telecommuting had already started to emerge prior to this year and online collaboration tools were already popping up. However, now there is a bigger selection than ever so everyone can find what works best for them. A platform to organize projects is an absolute must for a remote team collaborating. Names such as Trello and Jira are probably not foreign to you in this day and age. You also need a reliable way to share files and several tools for communication. Needless to say, you also need to think about the security of all your data. Choosing the right tools will keep everyone on the same page and facilitate collaboration so don't skimp on this.
Corporate events have many benefits, one of which can be reinforcing the team spirit between your employees. They provide an opportunity for team members to interact more informally and create bonds that are going to be beneficial in their future collaboration. Unfortunately, real, physical events are still not an option in many parts of the world, but that still does not mean you cannot leverage this opportunity. You can give some thought to virtual events that your employees, clients and guests will be able to attend. Creating such events is not easy, so consulting professionals is a must. With good event marketing, you will be able to have a successful event that achieves all the goals you have set. You don't have to forget about celebrations either just because your team is working from home. If your company usually celebrates birthdays, keep up this tradition virtually to make employees feel appreciated.
Communicating frequently is important. However, you cannot constantly hold meetings. There is not always time to schedule meetings, either. In fact, the formality of scheduled meetings can truly be a productivity killer. That is why you absolutely need other channels of communication for less formal and more urgent exchanges. You can leverage an instant messaging app for this purpose. Since instant messaging and other forms of written communication have their drawbacks, it is a good idea to set up a few communication norms that are going to compensate for these. For instance, mark messages that do not require a response to prevent unnecessary messages from creating clutter. And while instant messaging and being concise go hand in hand together, remember that being too brief is not always the best decision in written communication. Being too concise might cause confusion in some cases. Communication should always be extremely clear to avoid misinterpretation that is so common.
While remote communication is not the same as in-person communication and its slower speed might pose a problem in the beginning, companies have no choice but to adjust to these changes. Every workplace dynamic is different, so there is no cookie-cutter solution to the challenges the pandemic has presented us all with. If what works for the majority does not work for you, don't be afraid to think outside of the box and change up the way your team collaborates. Just make sure everyone has the right tools and equipment at their disposal, that communication is always transparent, and don't forget about boosting the team spirit even during these times.