With the added measures many organizations are taking in order to enable their employees to work from home, there’s a new issue for teams: how do teams collaborate while working from home?
At CounterPath, we're huge ambassadors for remote working. With offices across North America and team members throughout Europe, we've learned to embrace both the benefits and challenges of having remote teams. In this blog, we'd like to take a look at a few simple steps we can all take to make virtual collaboration more successful. Here are our top 10 best practices:
Virtual Collaboration Best Practice #1: Identify and Focus on Objectives
When teams can't physically be in the same space, a shift in perspective must occur in order to measure success. Focusing on goals, deliverables and quality of work output must become paramount when assessing team performance. Staying productive while working remotely is crucial to maintaining business continuity, especially during uncertain times. Making sure your teams know exactly what their main deliverables are, defining responsibilities and holding them accountable will ensure remote working success for all involved.
Virtual Collaboration Best Practice #2: Prioritize Documentation
It’s not possible to clarify quick questions by just walking over to someone’s office when you’re working remotely. Not only are there multiple communication channels and additional distractions, but you also want to be respectful of any current calls or projects team members are working on.
Remote work requires purposeful and planned communication. Otherwise things can get misunderstood, or never communicated.
Make sure to document more and set up agreed upon practices for documentation. Create documents to outline objectives, align on next steps, clarified questions. Those documents will make sure that everyone is on the same page and will be a great reference for anyone new joining the team or just catching up.
Virtual Collaboration Best Practice #3: Have Regular Check-ins
Checking in with one another is important when teams are no longer in the same physical location. It’s about developing a good corporate culture. This is a great way to show support and encourage accountability. This can be done through email, messaging, and voice and video conferencing. Video conferencing, in particular, is an effective and easy way to add a personal touch to your daily communications. Since the majority of human communication involves nonverbal cues, video can help avoid potential miscommunications.
Virtual Collaboration Best Practice #4: Schedule Meetings, Stick to Work Hours and Avoid Distractions
When working from home, individuals may have shifting priorities throughout the day or begin developing their own remote work style. Blocking out time in advance for intellectually stimulating group work is essential for productivity. Having identified the main objectives and set some structure within collaboration hours keeps everyone accountable and present for solving issues or having engaged discussions.
Virtual Collaboration Best Practice #5: Invest in a Superior Unified Communications (UC) Solution
Bria UC softphone solutions, by CounterPath, streamline work communications and let users easily connect, communicate, and collaborate. Bria Enterprise includes features such as HD voice and video calling when integrated with a business' call server (PBX) or VoIP service. It also provides hosted messaging and presence services, screen sharing, video conferencing and more.
Bria Enterprise enables your teams to take their business number with them, regardless of where they are and which device they are using. It also provides additional tools to easily share presentations on their screens, meet face-to-face on video calls, and even transfer files within a chat.
Virtual Collaboration Best Practice #6: Experiment
Suddenly transitioning to virtual work can mean lots of changes in regular routine. During this time, it’s important to try new things, to see what works for various teams. Remember that there is no one size fits all solution for virtual collaboration. Try different ways of working, different break times, and collaborating through different tools to see what works best for your team. Consider the times when everyone on the team is most productive and wants to do collaborative or intellectually stimulating work.
Virtual Collaboration Best Practice #7: Maintain Good Health
Vast amounts of research shows that being sedentary for too long is bad for your health. Whether it's alternating between sitting and standing, taking a break or prioritizing physical activity, encouraging your team to move around during the day will also help facilitate better remote working experiences.
Virtual Collaboration Best Practice #8: Make Room for Socializing
Feeling connected to your teammates can boost happiness and productivity. Isolation when working from home can make one feel alone or more anxious. Being a team means not just rushing into work when starting a meeting. Leaving room for socializing at the beginning or end of meetings, implementing fun games or even just catching up can be a great way to spend time together.
Virtual Collaboration Best Practice #9: Avoid Multitasking
Stay in collaboration or working mode and off back-and-forth messaging as much as is reasonable. Once meetings or collaboration hours are finished, allow your teammates to get to their priorities.Trailing emails can be bombarding on teammates that are focused on project work. As much as being available and having an online presence is great, abusing those access points can be a big form of distraction.
Virtual Collaboration Best Practice #10: Celebrate Small Wins
Make time for celebration. Just like how socializing can strengthen team relationships, creating time and rituals for celebrations can encourage growth and foster trust. Find unique ways to celebrate small project milestones. As more of our interactions happen digitally, we may forget some of the small interactions teams used to have together. The solution will not all come from new technologies. Instead, teams must learn and define new rules of online engagement and build new practices to drive projects forward.
CounterPath is in the business of facilitating productive remote work for teams across the globe. Bria converges calling, messaging, presence, and collaboration tools into one secure interface. Our solutions can help you streamline your communications on one platform for improved virtual team collaboration. That's why we recently detailed what business leaders can do to better manage a mobile workforce in the wake of the COVID-19 public health crisis.
If you're looking for a collaboration solution, contact one of our Channel Partners or our sales team for an enterprise-grade solution.
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