In a world where more than 30 million people work from home at least once a week, the virtual workforce is rapidly becoming the rule, rather than the exception. And whether you work from your home office, your kitchen table or your front room floor, you are most likely needing to collaborate online with your colleagues and clients.
Of course, there are many factors that make online collaboration difficult but with a few simple tips, a little patience and a steaming mug of caffeinated goodness, you can probably get more done at home than at the office.
So we have compiled a list of the seven best ways to make seamless online collaboration a reality:
1. Identify roles and responsibilities — Whether you’re working virtually or in the same office, if your team doesn’t know who’s responsible for what—and when—chaos ensues. Before starting any group project, make sure that everyone knows who’s managing the project, who’s doing what and when it’s due.
2. Instant messaging — Find an instant messaging service that works across devices, including laptops, desktops, tablets and mobiles. This way, you can have quick conversations with your colleagues—no matter where they are or what type of device they’re using. Here at Lanmark we use Skype for Business which allows for IM, Screen Sharing and Video Conferencing.
3. Collaborative software — This may be an obvious suggestion, but it’s surprising how many organisations lack software that makes real-time collaboration on documents possible. By finding software that allows team members to co-author or work simultaneously on the same document, you can ensure that everyone has access to the latest version, and can knock out deliverables in less time.
4. Virtual meetings — When you need to get the team together and bring everyone up to speed on a project, idea or development, use a meeting service that allows for screen sharing. This way, you can keep people engaged and share your point precisely.
5. Check your ego — Collaboration is about bringing people together to support a common goal. You naturally have experience in areas that others do not, and vice versa. Allow your team members the same courtesy you’d expect and give everyone the chance to shine.
6. Be accountable — Whether you are running the project or just have a role in completing it, when you’re collaborating online it’s important for your team to know what you’re working on and that you’re on track for an on-time delivery. By communicating this type of information and living up to your commitments, you can not only build trust, but help team members prepare for the next phase of the project.
7. Be yourself, but reconsider sarcasm — Behaving like a task master or corporate drone will only get you so far before your colleagues start avoiding your emails and IMs. So don’t let your personality fall by the wayside just because you’re communicating in writing. After all, when your coworkers like you (and realise that they can count on you to get the job done on time), they’ll actually WANT to work with you.
The right online collaboration tools, the right attitude and your most comfortable slippers, makes working remotely a dream. However, with the wrong or limited IT Solutions and colleagues you can’t communicate with (or trust), it can be a living nightmare. So before you start working remotely or managing remote teams, make sure that you have the tools you need to work together and run projects as you would if you were in the office.