As the years go by, more and more Americans work from home, remotely, or virtually on a daily basis. The quest for income no longer ties people to one place, and collaboration no longer requires a face to face interaction. There is beauty and efficiency in this, but there are also challenges and inconsistencies that arise when a team is working together online. Many downsides to virtual collaboration and teamwork are characterized on the human side of productivity, from a lack of trust building and personal bonds among team members, to potential lapses in communication based on delayed response time and a lack of linguistic context in discussions and responses.
Luckily, there are companies and products out there that are constantly working to solve these virtual collaboration problems and the productivity hurdles that come with them. From showing your status as a present member of the group to engagement and interaction with team members across the right channels, physical location can continue to decline in how much it affects productivity for companies, small businesses, and remote workers alike.
First, establish communicative ground rules with your collaborative team in 2018. These can be as simple as sending ‘read’ receipts and maintaining certain tones and respect across all communication platforms to rules as complex as including visual aspects to contextualize group communication. You can instill meeting agendas, new feedback mechanisms, foster open communication among all team members, delegate tasks more efficiently, and better plan virtual meeting times with basic ground rules. In essence, once you establish a ‘drumbeat’ for your team, they can step together to that beat all year long, until your projects are finished.
Next, be sure to stay open when it comes to sharing and mindful about how you communicate with your team. Here, we’re talking about choice of platform and limiting any smaller conversations that happen without all members of the team present. Interpersonal trust only increases with inclusion and transparency, and your team’s actions and communication platforms both contribute to these aspects of getting things done. Whether you work through Dropbox, Google Drive, or Office 365, make sure all team members are on the same page and well-trained in your program of choice to assure it’s used in the most efficient and productive way by all. Incorporating audio may also be beneficial in 2018, as virtual team members can add one more level of context to group communication and limit cross-talk among messaging and email platforms alike.
Last, establish a voice and attitude for your team to adhere to and maintain. Be sure that you’re all on the same page when it comes to how you approach the project at hand and how passionate you are about it’s outcome or result.