With more people working from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work has become the norm for many. The fact that it has many benefits for businesses and employees could make some businesses incorporate remote work into their long-term plans, even after the pandemic is over.
With remote work, businesses can enjoy reduced business costs, the ability to source talent from anywhere globally, increased employee engagement, and improved business productivity. On the other hand, employees can enjoy a better work-life balance, a reduction in commuting costs, and the opportunity to work for any business – regardless of their physical location.
However, the age-old question remains: how do you keep employees engaged when you can’t interact with them physically? Even if you have a remote team, there should not be a reduction in productivity and engagement. In fact, with the right collaborative strategies, many remote teams tend to work more effectively than in-house teams.
Here is how remote collaboration can benefit your business and how to nurture a collaborative culture:
Collaboration Between Remote Team Members Sets You Apart
Nurturing a culture of collaboration in your workforce can give you a leg up on your competition. This is because collaborative teams tend to be more creative, engaged, and innovative in their work and ideas. They can tackle business problems head-on and come up with unique solutions as a team. Employees are also likely to be more productive while working in a collaborative space.
Best of all, collaborative environments can create a sense of community in a remote workforce. People feel like they belong to your small business, which can make employees happier and feel more committed to their jobs. Collaboration also allows members of the workforce to feed off of each other’s strengths. With time, everyone can realize their potential by getting out of their comfort zones.
Provide Your Team with the Best Communication Tools
How will your remote workforce communicate with leaders and team members? As long as you can equip your team with the right tools, creating an environment where collaboration can thrive is easy. Remote teams need tools that can help them communicate easily and effectively.
For instance, investing in cloud faxing solutions will make it easier for employees to share documents within the team. Employees can also sign documents digitally, and even store necessary documents and forms online. If your remote workers are new to cloud faxing, they can learn more on eFax services that make document sharing easier.
This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the kind of tools you should invest in for better communication. Other popular tools include video conferencing apps, CRM software, project management tools, and secure group messaging apps. If you have a communication need, there is a tool available online that can fulfill it.
Communications made through texts, emails, and comments are void of body language. As such, it can be easy for the message to be misinterpreted, which could result in adverse effects for your business. When writing any form of communication, ensure that you are as clear as possible – and leave no room for misunderstanding.
You should also give your employees a window to ask questions and raise concerns to reduce the chances of having any misunderstanding. Consider asking them questions to gauge their understanding or evoke some form of feedback from them. Where possible, mix up your communication channels.
If you send out more than 100 messages in a group chat, it is easy for the essential pieces of information to get lost within the clutter. While urgent messages are best communicated through instant messaging apps, less time-sensitive ones should be sent via email, depending on how your team operates. You can also leverage video conferencing whenever necessary for important facetime.
Set Clear Goals and Celebrate Milestones
Employees need to understand what they are working to achieve. This will help keep them engaged and help them understand whenever they are veering off from the target. At the start of any project, be sure to set clear, precise goals for your team. You should also voice your business’s long-term goals in front of employees and communicate how these goals can be achieved.
Whenever you achieve a milestone, remember to celebrate it together. This will keep employees engaged and feel that their efforts are appreciated and acknowledged. You should set aside time during meetings to highlight both team and individual achievements. Consider also looking for ways to recognize and appreciate the efforts of your employees.
Personalize Meetings and Interactions
Working from home can leave employees feeling isolated from the rest of the workforce. If they feel that they have a community to celebrate their wins and support them during tough times, they are more likely to commit to your business. Take time to make your meetings personal.
For instance, you can start meetings by asking employees how they spent their weekends. Creating such bonds will enhance collaboration and nurture friendships within the workforce. This does not mean you should invade employees’ personal space, but make them feel they can reach out to you with problems they may have as they work through the challenges of working from home.
Pay Attention to Time Zones
Having a remote team could mean working with individuals in diverse time zones. Any considerable time difference could be a productivity killer for your workforce if you fail to account for it. When scheduling meetings, be sure to consider every team member’s time zone. You should look for periods where working hours overlap to set up team meetings.
If you have one employee waking up too early and another sleeping late to attend a recurring meeting, you could affect their work-life balance. Also, factor in holidays whenever you are delegating tasks to employees. It can be frustrating for employees to be required to work on a day that is recognized as a holiday in their country, even if it is not recognized in yours. Luckily, there are online tools that can help you track time zones and holidays.
The fact that you have 24/7 access to employees doesn’t mean they will always (or should always) be available. Respect your employee’s off-hours by not sending them work-related messages during their personal time.
A remote team that embraces a culture of collaboration will almost always succeed. Ideally, having effective communication practices and tools can help nurture this culture. Your workforce will always be productive as long as they feel that they are part of a community. Work on creating the best environment for your employees to thrive, and your business will benefit as well.