Working remotely has significant advantages, but it also entails challenges to collaboration. Individual employees who are used to working on projects in the same room with one another, or laboring on the same file independently, may struggle to brainstorm, communicate, and create finished products when separated by geography and fiber optic cable.
Fortunately, several strategies can help you and your firm improve employee collaboration, even if your team is working remotely.
Choose the Right Intranet
One of your first responsibilities is to select the right intranet. An intranet is a communications network that enables your employees to communicate with one another; it may also include a suite of productivity tools designed to help your employees achieve greater productivity.
In the past few years, dozens of apps and services have emerged to alter how we regard intranets. Jostle is a popular example, but Happeo is an even more robust competitor.
Happeo provides familiar productivity apps such as file storage, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Search, but it also offers social channel support, personalized news feeds, user-creatable channels, and other features.
Choosing the most suitable intranet for your operation is the most important step in improving employee collaboration, because it provides the framework for that collaboration. You’ll need to consider such features as:
How might employees communicate with each other? Are they restricted to narrow forms of communication, like email or instant message? Or will they have access to a wider range of channels, including social media interactions, video chatting, and in-file, comment-based discussions? The more flexibility your platform offers, the better.
How does the software integrate with other tools your team is using? Can employees draw data from other sources with ease, or utilize multiple productivity tools simultaneously?
Which productivity apps are available as part of this intranet? Can employees quickly and easily create documents, spreadsheets, and other kinds of content to share with each other? Can multiple team members work on the same file simultaneously, and see each other’s edits?
Ease of use.
Finally, how easily can team members learn how to use this software? Will there be a steep learning curve? Is there plenty of documentation and/or training tools to guide your staff in how to use these apps more effectively?
Institute Goal- and Results-Based Frameworks
In a conventional office setting, most productivity used to be defined by time expenditure: employees were expected to work 9 to 5, Monday through Friday, and achieve their results.
But now that communication, collaboration, and labor can happen anywhere, at any time, companies can afford more flexibility. If you’re all working remotely, it may be better to institute goal- and results-based frameworks.
Give your employees more freedom to set their own hours and work in the ways they see fit. In exchange, make them responsible for hitting certain milestones or achieving particular results.
The outcome of this approach will be higher employee autonomy: Workers will feel and execute more power and control over their work. This should give them the freedom to experiment with varied approaches, and discover techniques that may empower them to reach peak productivity.
Employee autonomy happens to be one of the biggest predictive factors in job satisfaction.
Freedom is also vital for effective communication between members of a team. Rather than getting locked into predefined meetings, or traditional methodologies, your employees can choose to work together in the ways that suit them best.
Ultimately, this will result in more efficient work and better overall results.
Collect and Implement Feedback
It’s also worthwhile for your organization to remain adaptable, especially if you’re trying to work remotely for the first time. There will be growing pains as your more traditional employees have to alter their habits for the new circumstances, and new challenges to overcome along the way.
If you want to get ahead of this, go out of your way to collect employee feedback. What do employees like about this new setup? What do they think could be better?
You may find that your workers desperately need a new type of app, or they’re struggling with learning how to employ a particular communication channel. When you collect feedback, make sure to work on addressing what you learn with additions and changes to workflows.
Make Time for Informal Conversation
One of the biggest weaknesses of working remotely is that you’ll give up some of the informal communication that was common in your office environment. Interactions like water cooler chats and discussions in the break room will no longer be feasible.
You can make up for this by arranging for informal group chats on a periodic basis, which can strengthen team bonds and boost morale.
No matter what happens, working remotely is surely going to be an adjustment. But given the right tools, a proper attitude, and an emphasis on adaptability, any organization can create a collaborative environment for its employees.