In the pre-pandemic days, most of us took for granted the importance of meeting fellow-colleagues every day. We took daily face-to-face conversations and team collaborations as a given until this was disrupted by Covid-19.
A study by online scheduling platform, Buffer reported that 40% of remote workers acknowledge their biggest struggle is the feeling of loneliness, as well as lack of collaboration and communication.
As trivial as these issues might seem during a pandemic, if not addressed in a timely manner, conflicts and productivity issues could result, further undermining team communication and collaboration.
Working from home is the new normal, and for organizations to succeed, they need to embrace a new approach to online collaboration. Ways in which organizations can adapt include:
- Choosing the right communication channels – In a remote set-up, employees often find themselves working at different hours from what they did when in office. So, there is a requirement for communication channels that enhance collaboration and engagement within remote teams. Slack and Microsoft Teams are good choices as they allow for public and private texting, and for the creation of channels for team conversations.
- Employing clear and unambiguous messaging – In a teleworking set-up, communication, and collaboration within teams happens online. As a result, the subtle nuances of face-to-face communication are often lost, causing potential misinterpretation. Thus, when writing a message, one needs to be fully aware of possible interpretations and be as clear as possible.
- Using effective communication techniques – There are some tips to boost communication clarity that can help increase team engagement and productivity. Some best practices are:
- Be specific and clear about what you want your team to do and by when
- Quickly come to the point
- Avoid using technical terms or abbreviations
- Use #(hashtags) for categorize communication on Slack
- Identifying the right communication channel – Merely using Slack or Teams, plus email for all collaboration may not be enough. Managers need to identify the channels and platforms best suited to different online collaboration needs. There is GlobalMeet for client meetings, Dropbox for real-time collaboration, Calendly for planning meetings, and many more.
- Encourage healthy conflict – It is easier to disagree when collaborating face-to-face. But, when it comes to emails or any written form of communication, people tend to steer clear of any disagreement. Having an environment geared toward healthy conflict resolution enhances growth but also opens the floor for people to express opinions. As humans, none of us wants to be wrong. However, mistakes play a vital role in the overall development of the team. Thus, managers need to do regular team check-ins, which would further help build understanding within the team. It would also allow for healthy disagreements and ways to working around them.
With much of the workforce operating remotely, it is more crucial than ever for organizations to build collaborative cultures. Thankfully, there is a wide array of tools and platforms available that can facilitate online collaboration. The key to avoid being lost in the sea of available options is to identify those that closely align and cater to your team dynamic and tactical needs.