How to encourage collaboration between remote workers
An increasing number of businesses and organisations are allowing - or even encouraging - their employees to take advantage of remote working opportunities. By working from home or another remote location, employees can potentially avoid a long and costly commute, and save energy for their actual employment duties. This can encourage staff members to work more productively, adding value to their team and organisation as a whole.
But with employees potentially based in a number of different locations, is there a danger that you sacrifice many of the benefits of effective team working? Not necessarily, since modern technology solutions enable workers to communicate with one another in real time, much the same as if they were working face-to-face. Providing employers are able to foster a culture of collaboration, there is nothing to stop individual team members working as part of a cohesive unit, despite the physical geographical boundaries.
How to encourage collaboration
So as an employer or manager, what can you do to ensure your remote workers share information, knowledge and insights with one another - helping to make everyone's job easier? A good starting point is to communicate clearly and regularly with each employee. This can help build trust between manager and staff members, and improve understanding. If remote workers are unclear about any aspect of their job, this can be quickly resolved through an email or a quick call on the phone.
Regular chats also ensure remote workers feel as if they are part of the team, rather than somebody who has simply been forgotten about. If lines of communication break down due to the physical non-presence of a worker, it increases the risk that they slip off-task, fall behind or become disengaged with the company.
Culture and identity is important
Creating a strong company vision, with a clear organisational culture, and communicating this to remote workers can also help. If employees understand that they are contributing to a set goal or purpose, they are likely to feel more involved. This may encourage them to be more communicative with their colleagues, whether via email, instant messaging or the phone.
Reporting back on individual and team achievements can also help foster a greater sense of togetherness, despite the fact the various team members may be all located in a different place. If, as a manager, you are able to create a team identity and get everyone moving in the same direction, this can only have positive results - both individually and as a collective. You should always speak in terms of 'us', rather than 'you' and 'them', to reinforce the fact that everyone is working towards the same goal.
How can collaboration technology help?
Bringing your team together once in a while - whether physically or virtually - can make a big difference to team spirit and encourage greater levels of collaboration. This can be done in the format of a team meeting, a training session or simply an informal chat. The latter is important - if you can help build personal relationships between team members, they are more likely to communicate with one another and help each other out.
Modern technology solutions, facilitated by the cloud, mean it is possible to hold meetings virtually without dragging remote workers into the office. You can use video calls and web conferencing technology to bring people together for a talk or to make a presentation, rather than speaking to each individual in turn on the phone. These solutions can even be integrated with chat and instant messaging functions to support co-working. The technology exists to replace the in-person meeting experience, so why not take advantage of it?
Find out how Microsoft solutions can help your employees collaborate and add value to your business.