Enabling Effective Collaboration for Globally Distributed Teams

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The 2018 FlexJobs State of the Remote Job Marketplace report stated that around 3.9 million Americans work from home at least half the time. Fast forward to 2020, the State of Remote Work report suggested that in a survey conducted for 3500 remote workers from all over the world, 98% of them unanimously agreed to the fact that they would want to continue to work remotely for the rest of their careers.

Thanks to technological advancements and the pervasiveness of the internet, people can work remotely and still effectively collaborate with other team members and produce outstanding results. From having teams working from the same location to having globally distributed teams, the IT industry has come a long way. However, not many organizations have been able to find the right strategy to enable effective collaboration between distributed teams. With the world fighting a global pandemic and the government imposing lockdowns, it is only those organizations that effectively leverage their distributed teams that can succeed. That said, there are some challenges that employees who work remotely could face. According to the 2020 State of Remote Work Survey, they are as follows.

How can we overcome these challenges and enable effective collaboration? Read on to know!

Communication is the Key

As the graph given above suggests, one of the major issues while working remotely is effective collaboration and communication. 

  • The team should always be kept informed of what is expected of them and any important decisions or changes. This helps them get more involved and also increases productivity. 
  • There are various official communication tools that could be used to connect with the team members ranging from emails to video conferences. One should be careful while choosing the mode of communication. For example, video calls or calls, in general, can be used for real-time conversations.
  • However, if the teams are from different parts of the world, there comes an issue of different time zones. Hence the team leader has to decide if the information relayed through the meeting could otherwise be communicated through e-mails.
  • If the information is very critical that it compulsorily needs tele or video conferencing, make sure to choose working hours that overlap between the teams, i.e., the time chosen should be comfortable for all the teams that are involved. 
  • The organization can rely on different internal communication tools (Slack/ Zoom) that suit their preference and these tools can be used to host all types of corporate information ranging from team calendars to internal news and updates.
  • Conduct daily stand up meetings and ask relevant questions to enable transparent communication. Always try to be inclusive and make every team member feel valued and appreciated.
  • While conducting the meetings, it is better to be well prepared beforehand and organized.

Track Employee Performance

The FlexJobs 2018 Annual Survey with more than 3000 respondents stated that 65% of them were found to be more productive in their home office rather than at their traditional workplace. Having said that, in order to understand the activities and keep track of the productivity of your team, one should observe employee performance systematically. While working remotely, every employee has a different game plan and approach towards their work, and a one-size-fits-all approach may not help here. Hence it is important to track the activities of the team members and decipher the workplace analytics. This could be achieved as follows:

  • The team members could share a tracker wherein they record their activities on a daily basis. This helps the team leader in creating an optimal work environment for them and also understand their needs. 
  • Also, set tasks with deadlines so that the team members feel driven to complete the work within the stipulated time. 
  • If needed, monitor the time that the employee clocks in using time and attendance software. This helps you gain a better understanding of the working patterns of your fellow associates. 

Encourage Team Bonding

While working remotely, team members usually are not able to bond with each other as they would do at the office. Team bonding could be a useful way of helping them destress, relax, and connect with the team. The team could choose any collaboration tool that fits their organization for this purpose.

  • The team could come together to share ideas, discuss topics, indulge in some light-hearted banter, and in general, have fun. 
  • Conduct virtual games such as ‘Pictionary’ and ‘Charades’ by splitting the members into groups.
  • Encourage the team members to share pictures from their daily life. This could include anything ranging from their favorite series to a balcony view from their house.
  • Connecting with the team members would help boost the morale and drive of the employees. 
  • Also, getting to know each other on a personal level would help them trust each other better and could prove to be very helpful in enhancing the quality of work done.

Adopt the Right Tools

While there is a wide range of tools that could be used for seamless collaboration between the teams, it is important to strategically choose the right ones. How to do them?

  • Different tools help achieve different goals, i.e., some enable real-time communication while some enable tracking of work. 
  • Thus the first step should be to visualize the needs of the team and understand the type of necessary tools. 
  • Once the needs are understood, it becomes easier to choose the right tool.

Listed below are the different categories of tools that could be used:

  • Video conferencing: Zoom, Skype
  • Communication: Slack, Front, Soapbox
  • Document Storage & Collaboration: Dropbox, GitHub Wiki, Box
  • Project Management: Asana, Basecamp
  • Productivity: Microsoft To Do
  • Employee Engagement: Compt, CultureHQ

Benefits of Working with Globally Distributed Teams

There are certain misconceptions around working with globally distributed teams. Some organizations consider it to be a hassle to work with employees who are working remotely however, these doubts are unfounded. 

  • Globally distributed teams make it easier to procure talent beyond the geographical boundaries. Especially during times like these wherein working remotely is the only option, organizations could leverage the benefits of globally distributed teams. These teams often turn out to be more cost-effective as compared to having an in-house team. 
  • Additionally, these teams would be available during the times when the time zones overlap, which would be more than half of the working hours of the client organization. 
  • Employees who work remotely are found to have better work-life balance and productivity. The teams are diverse and provide flexibility. Take a look at the benefits of remote working as reported by the 2020 State of Remote Work.

With more employees looking out for flexibility, one could state with conviction that the future of getting work done lies with distributed teams. Especially after the COVID-19 situation, organizations have started becoming extremely aware of setting up highly efficient globally distributed teams. The distributed teams are highly flexible, scalable, and possess a global mindset. This is the right time to milk it for all it’s worth and to do so, it is important to train the team members properly, choose the right set of tools and enable seamless collaboration.

Click here to check out our Business Continuity Checklist and Best Practices

By,
Amritha Nampalat
Marketing Executive, RapidValue

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