Since the advent of lockdowns, the difference in the effectiveness between teams with robust virtual collaboration processes and those without is profound. As an element of virtual working will continue it is vital we know how to collaborate in this way.
Collaboration in itself – minus the virtual element – is the axis that working together, cohesively and effectively, spins around.
The old saying about the teamwork making the dream work is a quirky analogy about collaboration and its true.
Now, factor remote working into the equation. Without clear and vigorous virtual collaboration processes you run the risk of leaving your team members flailing in the wilderness.
This sort of potential disparity amongst a team of people who aren’t in the workplace together can result in mixed messages, misunderstandings, lack of clarity about what they’re supposed to be doing… unintentional anarchy. The damage can be difficult to claw back.
Elizabeth Grace Saunders captured the essence and the importance of virtual collaboration in her recent Harvard Business Review article, saying –
“The purpose behind team collaboration isn’t for you to always be available. Instead, it’s to make sure that you and your team are aligned on your goals and most effectively moving ahead in accomplishing them. You can collaborate effectively from far apart, even when you have an incredible amount to do, if you collaborate with intention and focus.”
3 Key Elements of Virtual Collaboration Alignment
Set clear boundaries about times and volumes of calls and emails made and sent internally, (with the exception of unusual or urgent circumstances). Little things like having a rule of thumb about cc-ing can mean a lot. Make sure everybody understands who needs to know what. Otherwise, internal ‘death by email’ can become so distracting and overwhelming that nobody can get any work done for battling through internal comms. This can also be the case with too many meetings for the sale of it -zoom fatigue is a thing you know!
Agree, arrange and stick to regular online meetings to retain contact as much or as little as your people and your projects require. A harmonised team is a non-negotiable requisite of virtual collaboration, so stay visible and accessible, and make sure everybody else does, too.
Zoom. Teams. Slack. Google Docs. Dropbox. Your own in-house CRM systems and/or other in-house systems. Whatever tech you use is absolutely critical to virtual collaboration. In addition, it’s equally as essential that your people are completely up to speed with using your tech stack. Have you trained them in getting the best from the system and how to use it to work with others?
Have you had some fun team activities recently? This may be a strange question but when teams work together in a fun simulation, you can really see how they gel, who contributes, who takes a back seat. It’s great for motivation but even better to see the skills and areas of concern for each member.
You could run a virtual team simulation game – these are great fun whilst offering valuable insight and learning.
It’s equally important to have some non-work virtual get togethers, anything from an escape room, coffee hours, karaoke night, wine tasting, you can even hire an art teacher or magician online – the list is endless!
The important thing is you make sure you are putting things into place for virtual team collaboration moving forward.
At Sales Training International, we offer market leading virtual training courses covering everything you need to design and implement virtual collaboration processes you’ll be proud of and your team will thank you for.