Leading a productive team can be hard enough when everyone is sitting together in the same office. But managing collaboration, unity, and engagement amongst a workforce scattered across home offices and co-working spaces? That poses an entirely new world of complex challenges you might not be immediately prepared to tackle.
Lackluster communication, disengaged employees, distrust amongst virtual teammates, and technology breakdowns are just a few obstacles that can shatter remote teams' output and morale if you don't approach remote team collaboration proactively.
Despite these obstacles, managing a thriving remote team where flexibility and top-notch results co-exist is absolutely possible. This article explores the most pressing difficulties in enabling virtual team collaboration and actionable tips for overcoming them. You can build a collaborative, tight-knit remote team with deliberate effort and the right tools.
What Are the Challenges of Remote Collaboration?
Leading remote teams comes with unique hurdles you may not encounter when employees work face-to-face. Common challenges of remote workplace collaboration include:
- Lack of Communication and Visibility: Lack of effective communication while working remotely is a serious issue for remote team members. Without bumping into each other on a regular basis, virtual teams lose natural opportunities to exchange ideas and provide visibility into their work.
- Feeling Disconnected: When employees can't interact in person, they may feel isolated and disengaged from colleagues.
- Technology Barriers: From unreliable video conferencing tools to employees lacking equal access to technologies, technical issues can severely disrupt collaboration.
- Proximity Bias: The philosophy of "out of sight, out of mind" or proximity bias tendency is another major challenge. Team leaders may unconsciously prioritize or favor employees they see daily over remote team members. However, this tendency could hamper remote team members' growth and sense of inclusion.
- Difficulty Building Culture and Trust: Fostering organizational culture and trust among distributed team members may feel tougher in a virtual setup.
5 Tips for Remote Team Effective Collaboration
Achieving smooth collaboration with a distributed workforce requires forethought and continuous effort in building relationships. Here are five tips to help you succeed:
1. Implement the Necessary Remote Collaboration Tools
The first step is to equip team members with remote collaboration tools for hybrid work planning, communication, or video conferencing. With the right stack of solutions, you enable seamless conversations, ensure visibility into collaborative teamwork, and digitally recreate aspects of in-office interactions.
For instance, Scoop enables effortless planning of office days, whereas team chat apps like Slack allow quick exchanges. Similarly, project tools like Asana provide transparency around task status, and video communication platforms like Zoom facilitate discussions via screen sharing and video chat.
However, before deciding on any collaboration tools for remote teams, analyze your workflow and choose tools that enhance collaboration without information silos or communication gaps. It's equally important to provide any necessary training and encourage regular usage of these solutions for efficient remote collaboration.
2. Set Rules and Encourage Over-Communication
When managing distributed teams, overcommunication is key to minimizing misconceptions and keeping everyone aligned to one common goal. Create guidelines around communication etiquette and response times. For example, set the expectation that employees reply within 24 hours but avoid after-hours messages unless they are urgent.
Also, normalize overcommunication through multiple check-ins and conversations at regular intervals instead of one long-form email. For instance, a quick phone or video call prevents delays in information sharing. Setting clear remote team communication norms about when and how you communicate can minimize misunderstandings that may arise due to the asynchronous nature of remote work.
3. Hold Regular Virtual Team-Building Activities
Don't underestimate the impact team-building exercises and social gatherings have on motivation, inclusion, and work relationships, even from afar. You can always carve out time for games, trivia sessions, digital happy hours, or virtual coffee breaks.
These virtual gatherings facilitate relationship-building between remote employees, reducing feelings of disconnection and isolation. Prioritizing fun and games in a casual setting also eases stress levels, improving overall morale and engagement.
Aim to host these virtual team events at frequent intervals. They can be weekly or monthly, as per your team's demands. This will help team members bond with each other regularly without long stretches of isolation in between.
4. Celebrate Employee and Company Achievements
We often underestimate the power of appreciation. Acknowledging individual and collective successes is crucial in fostering a positive and collaborative remote work environment. Take the time to celebrate milestones, completed projects, and noteworthy contributions. This boosts morale and reinforces a sense of accomplishment among team members.
Whether it's a virtual shout-out, a team meeting acknowledgment, or even a small token of appreciation, such gestures go a long way in strengthening the bonds within your remote team. Remember, celebrating achievements creates a culture of recognition that motivates everyone to strive for excellence in their remote work endeavors.
5. Switch Most Communications to Regular Video Meetings
Consider transitioning a significant portion of your communications to regular video meetings.
Seeing colleagues' expressions, reactions, and body language fosters deeper connections, even in a remote setting. Video also eliminates communication ambiguities and delays arising from text-based mediums. For example, consider having short, daily team huddles via video. Also, switch your standard check-ins between managers and subordinates to video calls instead of Slack messages.
Visually connecting frequently creates a sense of proximity between remote workers. It also allows the conveyance of non-verbal cues, improving understanding and decision-making.
Leverage the Best Tool To Coordinate Remote Team Meetings
Facilitating collaboration and alignment across distributed team members is challenging. Scheduling meetings is a critical aspect that is necessary but grows complex with remote work. The endless back-and-forth to coordinate timing amongst multiple calendars drains valuable time and effort. This often leads to attendees showing up unprepared or important discussions being delayed. That's where Scoop comes in.
Scoop eliminates all that friction. From the Scoop Snapshot to the mobile app's Live Activities feature, you get a constant overview of meetings on your calendar. You can view your calendar at a glance, confirm attendee locations, and get notifications if sessions run late. This meeting coordination intelligence saves hours otherwise wasted trying to sync schedules. Instead, you can shift those efforts toward the meaningful work and conversations that will propel your team forward.
Don't let meeting alignment issues reduce engagement or productivity any longer. Transform remote team meeting visibility and coordination across the organization with Scoop. Try it for free today.