Hybrid Teams and Remote Collaboration – The New Remote Culture
When the pandemic caught the world off guard, the business world hastily threw together makeshift remote setups without knowing what working remotely would entail or how long it would last. For small to midsized companies scrambling to keep their businesses operational, remote work became the quick fix. But the work-from-home weeks in isolation turned into months, and after a year, remote-access work is now a large part of the way we do business. By necessity, companies have had to discover new ways to keep their remote teams productive and collaborative.
There are several different aspects to digital collaboration that must be addressed:
- Physical and Geographical distance – Where are your teammates? Are they in different time zones?
- Many companies have remote-access employees located in different states, countries and time zones. How does this affect team collaboration?
- Operational Distance – How large is your team? Does it have overlapping availability? What is the specific expertise of each team member?
- The size and geographical distribution of your workforce can seriously affect having everyone available when they are needed. Also, having unnecessary teammates in an online meeting is a waste of human resources. You want the right people in the right meetings. How can you structure your remote digital collaboration to bring the most benefit to your hybrid teams and your company?
- Affinity Distance – How much does your previous corporate culture bind your team together? Do teammates know each other well enough for a high degree of trust? Do the individuals have a clear understanding of the team goals and what they bring to the collaboration?
- Maintaining team focus, trust and loyalty can be very challenging in a remote-access environment. However, in a face-to-face office setting, trust is gained through physical camaraderie and team-driven pursuit of business goals.
Fortunately, the necessity for successful remote-access collaboration has spawned several new platforms to help nurture a productive online team environment via digital collaboration. These are especially good for small to midsized businesses because they provide shared “hubs” for the resources, files and collaborative tools your teams need to be on the same page and share ideas toward common goals.
As a business owner, you don’t particularly relish the image of your team members working from home in their pajamas and stopping for frequent coffee breaks and working on personal business. So, establishing boundaries and expectations for regular work hours is a priority for successful remote collaboration. Some of these include:
- Establish a Work Schedule (for full-time employees) – Staff availability during your established workday is crucial to maintaining continuity. All of your remote employees must treat the day as if they are still in an office surrounded by others. Lunch and bathroom breaks should be taken, but expectations of regular availability during your workday should be standardized.
- Account for Different Time Zones – Accommodations for establishing timely communication across team members living in different time zones should be made from the start. Twenty-four-hour turnaround time for replies to team questions can slow down a project.
- Assign Tasks and Set Realistic Goals – Most people are goal-driven. However, even those who don’t care much about goals understand the importance of meeting deadlines. Goals and deadlines will help keep your hybrid teams focused and accountable.
- Establish Regular Online Meetings – Because scheduling meetings to match individual availabilities has always been challenging, it is essential to have regular online meetings. By having regularly scheduled meetings, team members will have the time blocked out long in advance and be less likely to have calendar conflicts. In addition, monthly, weekly and brief morning meetings can nurture your digital collaboration culture.
- Create Live Chat Opportunities – By enabling a “Live Chat” function, teams can ask questions and share ideas in real-time while working on projects with their teammates. Live Chat can be text-based or video-based as preferred.
- Find Compelling Ways to Track Progress – By having a visual method for tracking individual and overall team progress, everyone will know where a project stands at all times and will not feel as if they are working in a vacuum.
- Use Differing Time Zones Effectively – If you have a team spread through several time zones, set a collaboration protocol so that if one employee is done for the day, another in an earlier time zone can continue working. This approach will be beneficial for meeting tight project deadlines.
The new remote-access collaborative environment requires significant attention to both ease of connection and cyber security. Hiring a hands-on IT consultant to evaluate your network and collaborative tools can ensure that all the hardware and software required for successful team collaboration runs smoothly and safely. The FBI https://www.fbi.gov/ has stated that with the dramatic increase in remote-access work, cybercrimes have increased over the past year by more than 400%. Small to midsized businesses cannot afford to lose productivity or risk data breaches.
GEEK-AID® Computer and Network Support specializes in customized Managed IT Services for small to midsized businesses. GEEK-AID®’s team of experts is comprised of specialists in different areas of IT services, serving clients on-site and remotely. The GEEK-AID® team doesn’t clock out at five o’clock on Friday. They are available 24/7 to ensure your computers, network and data stay healthy and secure. As your business grows, expands its network and adds more devices such as smart controls, wireless access and remote access, your network vulnerability and need for regular IT maintenance will grow, too. Hardware and software installation and maintenance, repair, security and network protection must be consistent and proactive to keep all your hybrid teams at maximum productivity in our new era of remote team collaboration.
Call (877) GEEK-AID (877-433-5243) to evaluate and discuss your IT needs. We are here for you 24/7.