Best practices for remote collaboration
In today’s workplace, colleagues (for the most part) are no longer gathering in one big boardroom for meetings. Thankfully, technology has made it possible for staff to work from virtually anywhere. Remote access means that employees can still meet deadlines, attend conference calls, complete programming projects and manage delivery schedules.
For many businesses, employees are exchanging their spacious office for home offices. Teams are now spread out, and it’s essential to be sure everyone’s on the same page in terms of workflow.
A great way to approach this is to enact a clear remote collaboration strategy. If you’re not sure where to begin, here are some ideas to keep in mind.
Arm every employee with the right technology to foster collaboration
If employees are going to work remotely, they should be equipped with the technology that will make their work possible. It should be as if they’re in an office setting. Different employees should have comparable technology so that there aren’t issues with version control or compatibility when collaborating.
Say you’re a video game design company with 20 employees spread out across Canada. Employees A, B and C are all writing code, and employee D is responsible for managing timelines, testing and debugging. If one employee’s computer isn’t powerful enough to keep up with the others, or if another doesn’t have the right compression software, the company’s uptime may be impacted. The right tools help to enable the best possible collaboration.
Ensure it’s easy to have a conversation
If employees are spread out, it may be tempting to rely on technology to do the talking, rather than jumping on a call. If there is an urgent deadline for a data security assessment or an accelerated delivery schedule on an app, you want to be sure that your employees have the means to do so without needing to worry about incurring long-distance phone charges. Setting staff up with conference call lines or a VoIP system can encourage regular discussions, especially when they’re needed.
It’s essential to create a culture of collaboration and set clear expectations on how your organization is expected to work together virtually. One way to do this is to draft an etiquette policy that delineates acceptable virtual behaviour. While it’s clear that employees are working from home, it’s not okay for them to be multitasking household chores during conference calls. Being clear about what’s acceptable and what’s not from the outset will help avoid uncomfortable situations in the future.
Find the right remote collaboration tools
While email remains an important communication vehicle for companies today, there is a host of tools, apps and software on the market that make it easier to collaborate productively. Some areas to consider include:
- Video Conferencing. From Skype to Google Hangouts, to Go To Meeting, there are many options to consider that go beyond the standard conference call. Video conferencing applications also allows you to display your desktop, which helps bring staff together for updates and issues. For instance, if you have an employee who is running into some problems with database updates, a video call can help problem-solve in real-time.
- Instant Messaging. Many employees likely have experience with one instant messaging platform or another. But what efficient messaging tools can do for your team is to reduce unnecessary emails. With platforms such as Slack, TeamChat, HipChat and others, teams may find it easier to share quick updates or ask questions that don’t necessitate an email. Plus, many tools have other built-in features that dispersed organizations may benefit from.
- Project Management. For staff managing projects within a single office setting, there are a lot of deadlines and assignments to oversee, often with different teams and individuals. When employees are located around the globe, it helps to have centralized tools for managing tasks or tracking to-do lists. Again, there are numerous options available in varying complexity, depending on your needs, including Todoist, Basecamp, Binfire, Wunderlist and more.
With numerous options, it’s crucial to research and put together a toolbox that makes the most sense for your business.
Want to know more about how to keep employees connected? Or other strategies to keep your business successful in this challenging time? Look to the Monster Resource Center For Employers for our extensive catalogue of expert advice.