Effective collaboration can be a challenge in any workplace, but it can be even more difficult for teams that work remotely. If you manage a team of remote workers, you understand the hurdles of creating a cooperative environment among people in different offices and time zones. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to encourage better teamwork among your employees. Here are eight ways for facilitating collaboration for your remote teams:
Create Spaces to Collaborate Effectively
As a manager, you should provide designated spaces where your employees are empowered to work together. For remote workers, robust video conferencing tools that provide collaborative functionality, such as the Ooma web meeting platform, are ideal spaces for cooperative work.
In these spaces, real-time communication should be the focus. Collaboration should feel natural, and employees should feel completely comfortable participating.
Set Clear and Measurable Team Goals
Remote teams should have clearly defined goals that ensure all members understand the purpose and objectives of their collaborative work. Group goals give remote workers a common cause to rally around. Goals should be measurable to give employees a clear picture of the team’s progress.
Define Each Member’s Role
Every employee should clearly understand their place in the team and what is expected of them. Defining team roles provides clarity and helps teams operate smoothly, particularly when unexpected issues arise or important deadlines are approaching.
Set Standards for Communications
The most important factor in the success of teamwork is effective communication. To best facilitate teamwork, you should set communication standards and norms that provide clear expectations to employees about their communication responsibilities. Teams should know which channels they should use and what and how often they should communicate.
Schedule Regular Recurring Meetings
Teams and their subsets should have regular meetings that work with varying schedules and time zones. You should establish a recurring time early on in collaborative work so that employees can work their schedule around that time.
Regular meetings are essential for making sure all employees are on the same page. Meetings should be purpose-driven and follow an agenda but also provide an opportunity for team members to bring forward important issues that may be hampering teamwork.
Encourage Socialization Outside of Work
In a traditional workplace, managers facilitate socialization outside of work so that employees can build bonds and work better together. This can be a challenge with remote workers. As a manager of a remote team, you should encourage socialization outside of work in non-conventional ways through real-time communication channels. Strong relationships are key to successful collaboration and should be supported even when employees work in different offices, states, or countries.
Reward Collaborative Behavior
To encourage future teamwork, you should reward your teams when their collaborative behavior leads to successful results. Celebrate and acknowledge the ways that a project came together with collective rewards that benefit the whole team. Incentives help to reinforce future collaboration.
Learn From Your Team
Not every measure you take to facilitate teamwork will be a success. Talk with the members of your team and encourage them to share what is and isn’t working in the group. Ask for recommendations based on what has worked for your employees on past projects. Building a collaborative environment should be the work of the whole team.
When you manage a remote team, you should take into account the unique factors that make collaboration difficult for people spread across multiple time zones. If you can create spaces, standards, and expectations that make teamwork intuitive and smooth for your team, you will likely find that your employees can work together effectively despite their physical distance.