How to collaborate effectively when your team is remote
The last two years have brought about massive change in how people work. While the current cost of living crisis and broader economic challenges have brought some people back into the office there is still an overwhelming amount of support from workers for flexible working policies, with many companies using the offer as a way of attracting the best talent.
For instance, Spotify adopted its ‘work from anywhere’ policy to help reduce churn in their workforce. The tactic appears to have worked as its turnover dropped by 15% compared to the previous year.
But while a WFH policy has become a must-have for many companies, it does create obstacles.
Ensuring dispersed teams can still effectively collaborate and work together is fast becoming the number one issue for companies looking to attract talent. Lucid Software’s own research found that 75% of workers felt collaboration had suffered the most while working remotely.
If companies fail to address this problem, it can lead to staff feeling disconnected with their co-workers, and not supported by the company. It also creates an environment where creativity and innovation can falter, potentially creating a workforce that feels unfulfilled and a company that will struggle to remain competitive in the long run.
Fixing this problem relies on businesses continuing to invest in their collaboration technology to support new ways of working, no matter if they are working remotely or from the office.
Finding the blind spots in work from home
Further insight from Lucid’s research found that there is a disconnect between what managers think the problem is and what employees believe.
For example, 78% of lower-level management was concerned with productivity levels while their staff worked from home. However, 40% of workers said working from home made them more productive. In fact, 80% of employees were frustrated by the lack of additional capabilities within existing collaboration technologies.
Clearly, businesses are currently not supplying their workers with the right tools to effectively collaborate while working remotely.
Instead, managers need to focus on platforms that can support employees throughout the entire innovation process and enable teams to work together across departments.
A quarter of employees reported being distracted for half a typical virtual meeting if they didn’t have any visual tools. Using tools like virtual whiteboards can enable presenters to visually demonstrate plans and projects in a way that is easily understandable and engaging.
Level the playing field when it comes to work location
Executives also need to consider the variety of working styles within their companies. For example, the cost of living crisis has brought some older workers who need to boost their income back into the workforce. While they bring huge amounts of experience with them, they also collaborate in vastly different ways than younger generations.
For example, a majority of workers over 30 prefer sharing information over email. This difference goes beyond generations as well, with extroverts more likely to dominate virtual meetings, meaning introverts’ ideas risk becoming side-lined by the louder voices in the room.
Levelling the playing field so that everyone, no matter their location, is able to share their thoughts and ideas relies on having the right technology to support it. For instance, having a platform that integrates with both messaging platforms and email ensures everyone can share ideas in the way that suits them best.
Virtual whiteboards can also provide a single source of truth for teams. Enabling everyone to share and record their ideas, no matter if they are in the meeting or not, ensures that every idea is captured and considered. In this way, workers feel valued, and managers don’t miss out on potentially great ideas.
The process of improving worker collaboration is never done
As we continue the journey through the new world of work, one thing is clear – the process of improving collaboration is never going to be complete.
While platforms such as Zoom and Teams helped us through the initial phases, it is important we continue to work on improving technology so that it is suitable for our future needs.
Companies will need a suite of technologies that can support workers through initial brainstorms, to project mapping and ensuring teams remain on track.
We must embrace an inclusive approach to collaboration and make it a cornerstone of a business’s organisational culture.
Managers who only offer plain work from home in the hopes of winning the battle for talent are going to lose out. Those that understand continual work needs to happen will put themselves in the best position for the future.
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