The results are in; productivity is higher, engagement is climbing, and employees are reporting greater sense of satisfaction in their job when it comes to hybrid and remote working. We’re getting the job done, but how are teams collaborating in this way of working?
The ongoing challenge for remote and hybrid teams is being able to maximise collaboration without pulling the metaphorical rip-cord and ‘getting everyone back to the office’. One key ingredient to success for distributed and hybrid work is having the right collaboration tools for remote teams.
The right tools, applied in the right ways, allow team members in different locations to work together smoothly by sharing files, communicating freely, and strike the balance between synchronous and asynchronous approaches to getting work done.
As with completing any task though, it’s not just about the tools themselves, but how we use them. Let’s explore collaboration tools for when our work is synchronous (happening at the same time) and when it is asynchronous (able to happen at different times).
Collaboration Tools for Remote Teams – Synchronous work
Video conferencing tools – Zoom/MS Teams/Google Meets/WebEx etc.
The flow of conversation and communication is maximised when we are able to see and hear each other in real time – creating connection and ensuring the context is understood by everyone.
Video conferencing tools such as Zoom became massively popular during the pandemic. They allow remote teams to hold virtual meetings, make presentations, and connect. When you are using video conferencing for collaboration it’s key to outline the intent and process for collaborating this way.
Like any tool though, video conferences have limited use. Just like a screwdriver is a must-have tool for any weekend-DIY-warrior, we are reliably told that they are no good as a hammer. In the same way, video conferences are great in certain circumstances, but not others.
The big problem with videoconferences for collaboration is that conversation can be dominated by a few individuals and it can drive group-think (in the same way face-to-face collaboration can). To help drive greater levels of collaboration using video conferencing ensuring you are also utilising capturing and summarising tools.
Capturing and summarising tools
Many of the video-conferencing platforms now also have tolls to support collaboration. For example ‘white-boards’, polls, chat functions etc can be great ways to capture key ideas, challenges and potential strategies or solutions from the group.
In order to get the best out of these tools do the pre-work of considering which of these features would best support your collaboration conversation and what questions or activities will you ask the group to engage in.
In addition to these tools, advising individuals that you will be audio recording the conversation will then allow you to utilise AI tools such as otter.io or ChatGPT to transcribe, summarise, and pull out key actions at the end of the discussion.
The other way collaboration can be incredibly effective for remote teams is utilising asynchronous collaboration tools.
Collaboration Tools for Remote Teams – Asynchronous
In this Podcast Matt Mullenweg, the CEO of Automatic, talks about the importance of asynchronous ways of working in achieving success in remote work.
Tools like Slack and MS Teams enable asynchronous work by giving alternate ways of communicating to the classic phone or Teams call. Ideas, articles, files and examples can be shared across the team and allow smooth access to the conversation via threads.
They can be particularly useful for remote teams as they provide a central hub for communication, with an easy-to-use interface – allowing the chance for individuals to consider ideas, spark suggestions and contribute in a way that aligns to their work rhythm.
Team members can easily update each other on progress, share ideas, and resolve issues. The best part of it though? They can do this without all being on the same call, at the same time. This asynchronous approach to collaboration can be massively beneficial in three key ways:
- It can lead to higher levels of contribution from team members. You know the introverts who are always quiet on calls? An asynchronous conversation in a dedicated project channel can give them space and time to formulate their thoughts and confidently contribute.
- Ability to get the ball rolling sooner. How often do you face the challenge of trying to coordinate six different diaries to set up a meeting, and it ends up being late next month? With asynchronous communication, no such concerns. Set up the challenge or conversation, and you’re away.
- Give your people back valuable time in the diary. Having more space to think and actually be strategic in their response often leads to greater and more diverse ideas.
With the right collaboration tools, remote teams can overcome distance barriers and work together to achieve incredible things. While the tools you choose are important, in many cases what’s even more important is how we put those tools into practice.
Set your team up for collaborative success by being discerning about both the tools in your tech stack, and how you plan to use them.
Interested in having your hybrid team operating at an even-greater level of high-performance? Find out more about our High Performing Hybrid Teams program here.