22 October, 2018
When you’re part of a virtual team group collaboration is more important than ever. Here’s how to encourage your team to work together no matter where they are.
Employees that work from home have risen more than 140% since 2005, according to Global Workplace Analytics. That means that more companies are facing the challenges of managing a remote team presents.
One thing that becomes more difficult when you have staff in different locations and time zones is group collaboration. However, there are team collaboration tools and techniques which can help. Here are some of the best.
Encouraging Group Collaboration
If you can, getting your team to meet physically at regular intervals is a great idea. Although there are many ways you can help your team bond virtually, getting together in person is the fastest way to develop a company culture.
If you don’t have physical premises, that can be a problem. Virtual offices are a solution to that problem. They give your distributed organisation a physical address and also meeting rooms to rent for those occasional get-togethers. Our offices in central London have excellent transport links to help your team collaborate.
Even if you can’t get everyone together, there are still plenty of collaboration tools you can use to create a sense of team spirit. Here are some team building strategies you should consider adding to your toolkit.
They say that communication is the oxygen of remote working. Without it, your team feels disconnected and demoralised, and you are at increased risk of mistakes and lone wolves.
There are a variety of team communication tools available. Online communication happens in two ways, synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous communication happens when all the participants are online at the same time, for example in a video chat using Skype or Zoom.
Asynchronous communication is the opposite. It’s the ‘fire a message off and wait for the other person to be around’ type. Email is the most obvious option, but text-based chat solutions such as Slack or Glip also come under this heading.
A Sense of Belonging
One of the most important things to human beings is belonging. If your team feels like it is part of a larger unit, it will thrive. If it doesn’t, you will struggle to get things accomplished.
With virtual teams, you need to invest time in creating that feeling of belonging. While in an office your staff might have a lot in common; kids who go to the same school or drinking at the same pub. With remote teams, your staff could be from different countries and cultures.
Getting together with your team to create a shared vision can help with this. That isn’t about what you are going to do, but how you are going to do it. Create an agreed work ethic for the team to sign up to.
Know Who’s Doing What
The foundation of online project collaboration is keeping everyone on the same page. Choosing the right task management solution is important, as this will make sure your staff always knows who is doing what and when it’s done.
There is a wide range of tools available to help with this. Some follow the simple card-inspired Kanban style made famous by Toyota. Trello is an example of this and offers an intuitive interface that encourages its use. If your workflow is relatively simple, Trello is a good solution.
Alternatively, there are more complex solutions such as Asana. You can break tasks down into sub-tasks and set up dependencies to make sure you don’t ask anyone to do something before they can complete it.
The beauty of the internet is that it allows people from all around the world to work together. There are a number of collaborative platforms, it’s a matter of choosing what is best for your team.
Virtual whiteboards are a great way to brainstorm together. Sites such as AWW App and RealTimeBoard allow multiple users to share a whiteboard and they update in real time. Pair them with a voice or video chat, and you may as well all be in the same conference room.
Consider Coworking Spaces
Working from home isn’t for everyone. While some people can work alone and manage their time effectively, some people need to be around others.
If you find one of your team members is struggling to get their work done or feels isolated, they may work better from a co-working space near them. They won’t be working with their colleagues, but they will be with other people.
Trust is important for team bonding. One way that you can build trust in your team is to have them share what they have accomplished. The Agile Development Methodology advocates for a daily stand-up meeting where the team talks about what they’ve done and where they’re stuck. Knowing each other’s competencies and being honest about problems builds trust.
As well as celebrating progress and success on a project, take time to look at personal events too. Birthdays are a must, and while you can’t mail everyone a card, there are other ways to collaborate on a gift.
If you have staff from different cultures, it’s worth looking at local celebrations too. Having someone talk a bit about the events and festivals that are unique to their area or religion can help the team understand you have more in common than you think.
Chat One on One
We’ve left this until last, but that’s for emphasis, not because it’s least important. Make sure that you check in with each of your team members on a regular basis. You need to instigate contact and cover the social side of things as well as the business. In fact, any time you or your team talk to each other, encourage them to stray from the path of work and just shoot the breeze.
Can We Help?
We offer a physical address, mail forwarding, and reception service to companies who don’t have one. You can use us as your registered office, and have us answer your phones, helping to create a sense of something physical and permanent for your team to work from. If you’re interested in hearing more about how we can help with group collaboration, get in touch today.