How to Increase Collaboration For Remote Work Teams and Departments
Thirty years ago, the workplace was a pretty consistent environment. There were cubicles, some conference rooms, and a few closed offices for high-level executives. People came into the office to work, and the idea of a “flexible” work environment was unheard of.
Times have changed – not only are office workspaces more creative and collaborative than ever, but companies are also more encouraging of working remotely. About three in four workers spend at least two days per week working from home, taking advantage of audio recorder technology and the comforts of a remote space.
The benefits of remote work are plentiful, too. 82 percent of workers report lower stress levels when telecommuting and companies get more production while incurring fewer expenses.
Of course, there are some challenges, too. Remote workers can sometimes feel alone or disconnected, and those in the office or other cities may worry about them getting their work done on time.
Luckily, it’s not difficult to increase collaboration across remote teams and departments. It does take intention and effort, though. That’s why it’s important to develop strategies for how to increase collaboration between remote teams.
Benefits of Improved Collaboration Across Departments
Even if – or maybe especially if – no employees at a company work in the same location, collaboration across teams is still important. To improve collaboration between departments, you have to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Some people may view remote employees as an easier alternative, but you can’t merely dismiss them. They need to feel included to buy into your company and stick around for the long-term.
Workers are more productive and output is more efficient when teams collaborate. Teams that work collaboratively spend 64 percent more time on a task than those going solo, and companies that promote collaborative working are five times as likely to be high performing.
It makes sense – people generally enjoy the experience of collaborating. As a result, they enjoy their time at work more, and that leads to better results.
How to Increase Collaboration Between Teams
You know collaboration is a must, but the next step is introducing it in the proper way. From ensuring your team has the right tools on hand to prioritizing company culture, we’ll show you how to increase collaboration between teams.
Some of the strategies below will have quantitative results while others will have qualitative results. However, they’re all vital to improving collaboration across departments and working effectively.
Equip Your Team with the Right Tools
Setting a remote team up for success should be treated the same way you’d welcome a new employee to the office. You want to make sure you’re equipping them with all the tools they’ll need to succeed.
For example, a remote department would require a working telephone that isn’t their own, messaging tools like Slack, video chat capabilities, client and company background materials, login info, and walkthroughs or training with any third-party platforms.
Without the proper tools, a remote employee won’t be effective, and your company’s overall morale and output will suffer.
Keep Your Schedule — Including Check-Ins
It’s difficult to change things at the last minute for any employee, but it’s especially challenging for remote employees. A good leader that’s dedicated to increased collaboration between teams understands this challenge and is considerate of busy schedules and different time zones.
Beyond simply showing up to a meeting, ensure that you’re fully present and prepared. Keep your phone put away and on silent, and don’t get distracted by an incoming email or chat message.
Remote employees don’t have the luxury of side conversations or comments throughout the day and aren’t able to just “pop over” to your desk for a quick chat.
If you’re on-time and present during collaboration sessions, you’re showing your remote employees you value them, which will make them all the more productive.
Encourage Collaboration Between Departments By Switching Up the Work
If your company is an agency or firm, your workers are likely working on multiple projects at once, often for several clients. If you always keep the same few people together working on the same type of work, that can eventually lead to burnout or isolation among those workers.
The feeling of being siloed off is a common problem, too. 57 percent of remote employees report missing out on important information, while 55 percent get excluded from meetings because they work remotely.
To get remote workers to collaborate effectively with entire departments, they need strong relationships with everyone. Switch up your teams regularly so that everyone gets a chance to work together and bond over a common goal. You’ll find the improved communication and collaboration well worth the effort.
Keep Your Teams Organized
When teams aren’t used to working together, there can be some growing pains. Think about any sport – a team full of new players probably will struggle coming out of the gate.
The Miami Heat, for example, made four straight NBA Finals appearances from 2011 to 2014, winning two championships. They had three future Hall of Famers in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, yet they started off their first season together winning just nine of their first 17 games. Hardly a championship-caliber output!
It’s the same thing when bringing new people together in an office. You need a process to help keep everyone on track. Boundaries let people be creative and everyone understands who’s responsible for certain tasks. Miscommunication can be common with remote work, but a required standard process keeps everyone from playing the blame game. Rather, they’ll all work together to focus on the success of the whole team.
Prioritize Your Company Culture
As a company grows, it continues to develop its culture. Especially in an office environment, daily life can create exactly the kind of company it is and hopes to become. With remote employees, everyone must express the intention to create a company culture so everyone is on the same page. That will help improve collaboration between departments, even if they’re working all across the globe.
It doesn’t have to be difficult to infuse that company culture into remote teams’ space. In fact, you sometimes have more creativity when connecting with remote workers. For example, one organization created custom emojis for employees that had spent at least six months at the company.
Simply because a remote worker isn’t at the office, that doesn’t mean they can’t participate. Just the opposite – all people should celebrate when they see company culture in action. This allows teams to collaborate more closely because they know they’ll be acknowledged for their hard work.
Communicate Details Effectively
Remember, miscommunication can occur easily with remote teams. Sometimes it stems from a lack of communication, like when a remote worker is unclear about next steps due to missing a meeting or having a bad phone connection.
Other times, it’s a result of teams not understanding the communication preferences of their colleagues, such as a casual versus a more rigid style. In both cases, the remote worker might be forced to take on responsibility for the project without a clear vision for how it’s supposed to look.
There’s good news, though: this lack of communication is easily avoidable. You simply need to keep an audio transcript of all audio and video calls, meetings, and presentations to share with everyone.
In those transcripts include next steps to empower remote teams to reach out to each other and collaborate among themselves, rather than following their managers’ lead and waiting for hours or even days to get things rolling.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy – and it also makes workplaces suffer.
Great collaboration comes from a place of fun. You can give remote teams the experience of being in the same room by setting up social events, such as company retreats, end-of-year parties, or creative celebrations unique to a certain location, such as hiking or floating a river. It’s also a great way to establish bonds.
These events bring the entire team together and serve as a way to make everyone closer. Teams that trust each other and like each other will always collaborate better throughout the workweek. That collaboration leads to stronger overall company performance.
Find More Strategies on How to Increase Collaboration Between Teams
The above methods are great strategies for how to increase collaboration between teams. There are plenty of other ways, too, so don’t be afraid to try out more strategies for improving collaboration across teams. If you want to get started today, you’ll make the biggest impact with a focus on clear communication.