Remote work has many benefits: work productivity and efficiency are up, carbon emissions are down, people save time on commuting, and businesses save money on overhead and infrastructure expenses.
One true downside to remote work, however, is that there’s no room for in-person collaboration. Because working together is very important for running a successful business.
When working remotely, leaders must find new ways of synching and connecting employees so that can keep operations flowing.
The best tools and strategies for collaborating effectively in a remote work setup are as follows.
5 Tools to Improve Remote Collaboration
1. Chat Apps
WhatsApp, Slack, and similar chat tools are one helpful way of streamlining communication.
Using these platforms, you can send messages to your entire employee base by creating a workgroup or focus on a specific segment or person via separate channels. You can also send files to each other without any hassle.
Be careful about bombarding employees with unnecessary work messages, though. This can get overwhelming and frustrating.
Rather than sending a huge volume of messages that only apply to one department or a handful of people to a general channel, use direct messages or send your communications to a more segmented channel.
2. Full Productivity Suites
Full productivity suites, such as Google Suite and Microsoft Office Teams, provide a number of tools that are essential for running a business and improving communication.
Word for text processing, Excel for data organization, Outlook for email and calendar management, and PowerPoint for presentations are all included with Microsoft Office Teams.
However, it is not only beneficial to an individual’s productivity— it’s also an amazing collaboration tool.
Microsoft Office Teams is a cloud-based suite that lets you and your coworkers collaborate on the same files, such as an Excel sheet, in real-time.
Changes are reflected on everyone’s screens. You’ll all be looking at the same version and will be able to view the most recent changes. Similar functionalities are available in the Google Suite as well.
3. Project Management Tools
If you aren’t already using project management software to oversee, organize, and track the progress of your projects, you should be aware that they may greatly simplify your and your team’s lives.
Trello, Jira, Monday, Wrike, and other tools will let you visualize the stages, assign tasks, create deadlines, and deliver comments, among other things.
These tools provide considerably more than just a way to collaborate effectively. Their broad range of tools, features, and customizations allow you to personalize their environments to your operational demands, allowing for better project management.
4. Cloud Storage Platforms
Many of the applications/tools we use on a daily basis, such as Google Drive, are cloud-based. When you employ cloud storage solutions, you’re not only guaranteeing that team member who require access to specific files and documents have it, but you’re also increasing security and allowing real-time collaboration.
Cloud storage platforms can help employees make synchronized comments or view the same document at the same time during a conference.
5. Video-Conferencing Platforms
Without video-conferencing systems, a list of remote collaboration tools would be incomplete. Zoom, Skype, and other such applications have become indispensable in our daily lives.
On the platform, you may hold weekly meetings with your team, give presentations, and much more. It’s a critical tool for ensuring that everyone is communicating and on the same page.
Related Article: How to Get 100% Performance of Your Remote Software Development Team
Complementary Methods for Remote Collaboration
While combining the tools listed above will improve collaboration amongst your remote staff, it will not be enough to increase productivity. To get the most out of all of those tools, you’ll need to put some procedures in place.
6. Establish Remote Work Etiquette
When your organization works remotely, employees are likely to come from all over the world, which means different time zones. As a leader, you’ll need to develop work etiquette for your team in a variety of areas.
When organizing meetings, for example, make sure to account for all locations and schedules when choosing the optimum times to meet.
Another rule to follow is to always consider an asynchronous approach before convening everyone for a synchronous video-conferencing meeting. Rather than having a face-to-face meeting, many concerns can be settled via a chat platform or email.
7. Set Boundaries
Collaboration is about more than just chatting and getting as much screen time as possible. It’s also about respecting other people’s personal space, even if it’s only virtual.
When it comes to remote work, the lines are already blurred: for one thing, people’s homes are their workplaces, and it can be tough for them to sign off for the day.
Also, make sure you set clear boundaries with your team. For example, to prevent your employees from becoming overwhelmed and to assist them to achieve a better work-life balance, you may implement a “no work emails after 6 p.m.” policy.
8. Communicate Expectations Clearly
When you can’t see what your team is up to every day in the office, a lot can get lost in translation. Make sure you create and clearly explain your expectations for how you want this remote work situation to operate in order to improve collaboration and efficiency.
Layout your ideas for procedures, day-to-day activities, and other functions and methodology for working collaboratively, efficiently and productively.
For instance, you could want your team members to let you know when they’ll be taking breaks or leaving for the day. If that’s the case, make it clear rather than getting irritated when your employees don’t follow through.
9. Make Time for Malfunctions
Problems arise. This is especially true if you rely on technology to perform your business — technology that you are likely unfamiliar with.
It’s natural to get frustrated when difficulties happen, but in order to foster a more collaborative, productive environment, you should schedule time for malfunctions and convey processes for scheduling time for problems to your team.
For instance, if you’re delivering a presentation, build in extra time to account for any delays or technical hiccups that might occur. That way, you won’t feel overwhelmed and will encounter issues.
10. Provide Plenty of Resources and Support
Even after a year, many employees may struggle with the remote work environment.
You’ll need to provide plenty of resources and support to guarantee that your staff collaborates with one another and contributes to a productive work environment. Don’t wait for your employees to request specific platforms; be proactive.
You might even run a survey of your staff to determine the tools and resources they require to improve collaboration and overall productivity.
When it comes to transitioning to a remote work environment, there’s a lot to learn. However, by utilizing these tools and approaches, you and your team will be able to adjust to our “new normal” and achieve greater collaboration.