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Five ways to improve collaboration in remote working

12 Feb 2021

Collaboration can make or break a project.

But in a remote working world, the need for better collaboration is higher and the challenges greater.

Building a collaborative remote working team isn’t only about providing staff with mobile devices and an internet connection. It’s about creating a culture of cooperation and ensuring your employees, colleagues and customers are connected.

Here are five simple ways to improve collaboration in a remote working team.

1. Give them the tools they need

The extent to which employees can collaborate depends largely on whether they have the right tools to do so. For remote teams specifically, providing access to cloud-based productivity tools is essential.

Real-time collaboration tools, for example, allow colleagues to work simultaneously on documents, leave notes and update their progress. This reduces delays and confusion as everyone is always working with the most up-to-date information.

But what about hardware? The right devices, connections and networks on the ground can help bolster productivity, too.

When Transport for Greater Manchester started to experience problems with its communications, it needed to re-evaluate the tools for its mobile workforce. It needed a cost-effective solution that could support the responsiveness of its communications — but it needed to be implemented with no loss of service and minimal disruption.

Working with the team, we were able to use specialised devices and mobile SIMs to transform its activities and empower the employees.

Before this, employees were experiencing poor connections, causing problems with customer service and from a wider business perspective meant they were experiencing service delays, wasting management time and losing orders.

2. Offer different communication channels

About a third of businesses have lost a customer specifically because of business communication problems.

Ironically, employees have access to more communication tools today than ever before.

Video conferencing has replaced face-to-face meetings. Collaboration tools have replaced whiteboards. And Google Drive and Microsoft SharePoint are the digital Swiss Army knives of today.

But with all these tools, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and — most importantly — if they are not seamlessly connected, your teams will miss out on vital information.

They need solutions that help, not hinder. Unified Communications and Connectivity is core to this, connecting your voice, text, email and conferencing tools under one umbrella.

So whether it’s interlinking your contact centres and communications to enhance relationships with customers, or consolidating your mobile suppliers to reduce costs, there’s plenty you can do.

3. Improve employee support

Good collaboration is heavily reliant on creating an environment of trust and support.

The more people feel they are contributing towards a common goal, and are supported in doing so, the more motivated they are likely to be.

This means putting greater emphasis on supporting employees and creating the right environment where everyone feels they are contributing to a common purpose.

This is a greater challenge in a remote working environment. Especially when it comes to supporting introverted members of a team who might feel more isolated.

Creating regular opportunities to catch up with team members face-to-face (even over video) can help keep employees motivated.

But it also goes to a company’s wider purpose and mission statement, i.e. ensuring employees feel like they’re working for a company that shares their goals or is contributing to society.

During COVID-19, this meant making sure employees felt they were being kept safe while working. But it’s also something many businesses are adapting to for the long term, both for their employees and customers.

For example, our Future Ready Report found that more businesses were making sustainability a key part of their business models.

One reason was that they now felt a sense of moral obligation to contribute towards a sustainable future, along with the fact that customers prefer to buy from and work for sustainable organisations.

4. Focus on task management, not time management

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing many to work from home, we saw a rebalancing of priorities when it came to work and time management — and that’s remained consistent even now.

Remote working has created more acceptance of flexible working hours. Employees are less pressured to account for everything they’ve done in a fixed eight hour period.

Today, more are balancing work with their lives much better. Using time in the afternoon to complete personal tasks and run errands, before logging back into work later.

The result has been that 58% of workers have been more productive while working from home.

In the future, businesses will be better served by focusing on project progression and task management, rather than trying to impose rigid, detrimental work practices on employees.

5. Create connections

When Innocent Drinks wanted to connect their UK workers with their workforce in Europe, they knew they needed a network that allowed people to work in the same way, no matter what country they were in.

Working together, we built a Wide Area Network (WAN) which improved their ability to transfer data quickly and securely to every employee, anywhere.

These are the kinds of connections businesses need to look to in the future if they are to create the kind of flexible, remote teams they need.

Learn more about how to promote better collaboration within your remote team.

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