For all the advantages of a remote work environment, collaborating with others remains a challenge. How do you perform as a team when everyone is working from home?
Thankfully, there are ways to boost collaboration with technology, tools, and techniques from the front-line innovators of online business. Here’s what they have to share on the subject.
Keep the Culture
Many businesses have struggled to keep their company culture intact during the remote work era. But those that put culture first are rewarded with great work and a dedicated workforce.
“The old rules of teamwork still apply, especially in remote setups. You need a culture built on trust, empowerment, and mutual respect. Don’t ruin employee engagement and satisfaction by taking away these key components of a strong culture.” – Tracey Halverson, Co-Founder of Fastspot
“With many employees opting to work hybrid and remote, we have more space in the office to form open-spaced pods where our team can collaborate in person while remaining socially distant. So we often schedule in-house brainstorming sessions for small groups of employees to get together in person to share ideas about new content and collaborate on ways to enhance our user experience.” – Tyler Faux, Founder and CEO of Supergreat
“Create a quarterly or annual face-to-face retreat with your team. This gives everyone worthy incentives and will promote collaboration within the team. When everyone knows they are going to meet face to face together at some point, the way they collaborate with each other will shift.” – Jordan Nathan, CEO of Caraway
“To enhance collaboration in a remote work environment, schedule monthly virtual happy hours. If you can work from home, you can drink from home, and this cultural event will help everyone interact with each other in a different way. This will improve the morale of your team and promote collaboration within the organization.” – Darren Litt, Chairman and Co-Founder of MarketerHire
“The best way to jump-start collaboration amongst a team is to try and socially connect. This can be done remotely. I encourage management to set up one on ones amongst co-workers, create certain subject matters to discuss, this will break the ice and help everyone connect. Once you are able to connect on a social level it will be easier to collaborate and each employee will feel more comfortable, even remotely!” – Aidan Cole, Co-Founder of TatBrow
Tools of the Trade
If your digital tools aren’t up to the task, online collaboration can only go so far. Equip your employees with powerful tech tools for the best results.
“We have found that functional communication software is very important. Employees need these tools to collaborate on projects and tasks. Loom allows us to have those video conversations that are a bit more personal – better than communicating via email. Also, managing projects via Basecamp or traditional email is key to staying on top of big-picture tasks.” – William Schumacher, CEO of Uprising Food
“Just look at the success of online courses on LinkedIn and Skillshare, and it’s clear that creating a sense of community is essential. And with a thoughtfully structured lesson plan combined with engaging, easy-to-follow instruction, businesses can create an intensive learning experience online for their remote and hybrid employees.” – Harris Rabin, Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer at R3SET
“One way we have jump-started collaboration in a remote environment has been utilizing Slack to create an engaging way to collaborate. Slack allows us to stay connected at all points of the day no matter where we are, at the office or at home.” – Lauren Picasso CEO of Cure Hydration
Is it possible to communicate too much in the world of remote work? We don’t think so, and today’s business leaders agree.
“A great way to collaborate when operating in a remote environment is to set up virtual meetings for 30 minutes three times a week. This will give co-workers an opportunity to see each other’s faces. It is important to create a remote environment where everyone is still connected even though no one is physically in person together. Make these meetings interactive, don’t just preach as a manager or leader. This will help a remote group connect.” – Sean O’Brien, CMO of Modloft
“Setting up 1-on-1s with your team is a great way to jump-start collaboration in a remote work environment. These one-on-ones can be great at solving problems, discussing internal issues, and developing your employees. You can address both personal and professional goals for your team members and reiterate that your team has your support even when working remotely.” – Chris Gadek, Head of Growth at AdQuick
“Encourage informal discussions before and after meetings. This will help keep your team synced and on the same page. It will also unify your team to learn to work together on clients, customers, and internal issues.” – Craig Carter, CEO of Jack Mason
“In a remote work environment, communicating often with your employees is key. Taking the time to send emails and meet regularly online can go a long way. Some companies are able to jump-start collaboration by coordinating online scavenger hunts, online mystery parties, and other games. Forming teams in that type of relaxed environment can help employees who would not normally meet have the opportunity to network. This can help fuel collaborations and lead to better teamwork in the future.” – Dennis Hegstad, Co-Founder of LiveRecover
“As a manager, I continually promote communication. Communication is the best and most effective tool for teams, especially while working remotely. Start each week or project with clear and achievable goals. Allow your team to ask questions and contribute to the goal. You are now all on the same page and your employees can leave the Zoom call understanding their tasks and your expectations fully.” – Lo Bosworth, CEO and Founder of Love Wellness
Everybody works a bit differently from home – be ready to accommodate different schedules and styles, and try to find common ground.
“Offering flexible hours opens our talent field to include students who want to work while pursuing their education goals, parents who want a better work/life balance, and the more senior workforce who aren’t ready to retire. The range of availability of our employees enables us to be there for our customers when they need us. Our team has really bonded through their support of one another, resulting in an improved experience for our customers.” – Shahzil Amin, Managing Partner at Karlani Capital, Founder of Emagineer and WellBefore
“Trust in your employees is vital as teams work from home and collaborate across time zones. Flexibility and adaptation also form the foundation of a successful virtual culture.” – Author and Speaker Larry English
Digital collaboration may not ever be quite as effective as the real, in-person experience, but things are improving fast. Use these tips to improve teamwork during the remote work era and do your best to embrace the hybrid office when possible.