Collaboration in the Era of Online Work
Working effectively and keeping employees motivated in the era of remote work are providing new challenges for employers. One of the biggest seems to be the engagement of participants in online meetings, since most of the time these types of meetings take place without vision, which makes communication even more difficult when compared to live meetings, where a huge part of communication is non-verbal communication.
So how do you work on this aspect of your daily job in the days of remote company interaction? In this guide, we’ll describe the most important aspects of working online and give you effective ways to communicate to achieve your goals in teams.
Systematics of action — step 1
It is necessary to bet, above all, on systematic action and not putting off important issues to be clarified.
A good way to do this is to ask questions directly to more withdrawn people who find it difficult to speak in a larger group. It’s also good to introduce regular meetings at which a camera on is an obligatory element — with a little advance notice, so that no one is surprised, because we know well that we don’t always pay attention to our appearance when working from home.
Observation — step 2
Another important issue is to observe your team for possible job burnout or other personal problems. Creating a safe space for your employee and building the trust to share such information with your supervisor is not an easy task without the possibility of live meetings, but consistent and open communication definitely has a positive impact on relationships and allows you to increase your employees’ sense of security.
If you are an employee — not a team leader — and you notice some troubling signs in a teammate’s behavior, don’t hesitate to ask that person directly how he or she is feeling and whether that person needs to talk. It is possible that people at work are often ashamed to report their well-being or simply “don’t want to burden anyone.” Support from someone on the team may allow them to open up to the leader and receive concrete help in solving the problem, or simply support in the wider community — communication must work not only when we are acting for business purposes, but also in a crisis — after all, any of us can face worse times.
Active contact — step 3
An extremely important aspect is keeping management in constant contact with employees. According to data collected in a report by Adaptavist, as many as 34% of employees feel that their bosses are not “realistic” enough and do not feel a proper contact with them, and as many as 75% feel that digital platforms take away the desired visibility and appreciation of their work.
It is therefore necessary to pay special attention to multi-sided contact— to ensure that not only the employee speaks up in circumstances of necessary problem solving, but also that bosses communicate clearly and systematically with group leaders, who in turn communicate with their teammates. Information flow is a very important element.
Proper working conditions — step 4
A not-so-good connection, as well as equipment that doesn’t meet the requirements, are considerable adversities for remote work. This can involve a loss of productivity, as some of the time that could be spent working is lost by the employee reconnecting to the network, resetting equipment or waiting for content to load or process.
The key is for the employer to provide the right equipment and, to the extent of the individual, internet at the right speed. And don’t forget about the tools necessary for work — including virtual ones, among others: access to the right platforms and other tools needed for online collaboration.
It is also worth noting that excessive use of tools can also be a problem, so balancing the number of them will also be very key.
Sense and substance of meetings — step 5
It’s a good idea to set regular hours for specific online meetings so that they aren’t scattered throughout the day from morning to evening — such a practice is a knockout for many employees.
Systematic shortening of the duration of meetings is also desirable, as it prevents dilution of topics — it’s a good idea to focus on goals so that after each meeting you leave confident in what the meeting was aiming for and what was agreed or updated.
Online meetings should also have a predetermined agenda and be conducted in such a way that each participant tries to be active. Also, remember not to schedule meetings without first making sure that the people in discussion have free time to talk at the time, and from the point of view of the person being invited — accept or decline as soon as the invitation is received. This saves time for hourly reorganization and also makes communication smoother by not leaving question marks.
Remember that no one is equipped with perfect communication skills from the start. Collaboration in the online era is about gradually learning this teamwork, which always has its advantages and disadvantages.
The huge changes in our work and learning more and more about new tools opens up many opportunities, but also brings many pitfalls, including communication ones. All these ingredients we have mentioned are the way to comfort and efficiency at work, and therefore a smooth management and coordination of tasks.
“The ability to communicate with clarity and purpose is the key to personal and professional success,” — G. Riley Mills, co-founder of Pinnacle Performance Co. in Chicago
Author: Karolina Kozlowska — TA Leader
Copywriting: Kinga Kusnierz