How to encourage virtual collaboration with your team
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How to encourage virtual collaboration with your team

26th January 2021
By Tom Ladle

Let’s be honest, we’re all feeling fed up. Lockdown three (that’s right THREE) is in full swing, it’s January and the social interactions we’re used to are nowhere to be found. But and it’s a big but, we do have a vaccine and there is light at the end of the tunnel. So, with the doom and gloom out of the way, here’s our advice on how to stick it out and encourage virtual collaboration with your team.

Lots of communication

One of the cracking things about being in the office is the ability to pop round to someone’s desk, say ‘sup’ or however you introduce yourself and just have a chat. Could be work related, could be food related, could be alien related, whatever, the fact is consistent communication goes a long way.

This is particularly prevalent in a remote work environment, where you’re craving human interaction but may have only received a bunch of emails. That’s why as a manager, it’s crucial that you communicate lots with your team. Over communication is always better than under communication.

This has a host of benefits, including a more engaged team, a feeling of increased recognition, boosted morale, all cultivating in a collaborative virtual environment.

Set regular meetings (not just work related)

There’s only so much work one can take before they get ‘working from home burnout’. So, when you do catch-up with your team, try and mix it up and use them to understand how you’re all coping. Not only do meetings provide opportunity to give team praise and hash out important projects but they also allow for general catch-ups. This could be weekly meetings where work chat is strictly forbidden, tea and chats, Friday breakfasts, whatever works best for your team. It’s easy to begin to feel overwhelmed if all you have on your mind is work and there’s no respite.

Use meetings to not only encourage remote collaboration but also as a time to have a laugh. As Maya Angelou once said: “Laugh as much as possible, always laugh. It’s the sweetest thing one can do for oneself & one’s fellow human beings.”

Use remote working tools

Encouraging virtual collaboration with your team can be difficult, albeit impossible without using remote collaboration tools. When we say remote collaboration tools, we’re not just talking video calls, although they are essential for most teams. You’ve also got instant messaging apps such as Slack, project management tools such as Monday, good old-fashioned emails, Google Sheets, the list goes on.

Use a variety of tools, after all variety is a spice of life. This will stop your team relying too heavily on one tool and prevent virtual collaboration from becoming stagnant. What we mean by this is you don’t always have to jump on a video call, when a simple message will do. To the contrary if you’re trying to explain something quite complex, that would benefit from screen share or present document then use a video call. Know what tool to use in what situation to maximise efficiency and productivity.

Invest in team building

With a remote team and the state of the world it can be challenging organising team building activities. Conventionally you’d all meet up for a rad go ape sesh or just a rad drinking sesh, and hey presto, you’ve had a wonderful team building experience. For obvious reasons that’s not possible but that doesn’t mean you can’t build your team virtually. You might just have to get a bit more creative.

We’ve had a virtual crystal maze, virtual family fortunes, both of which were brilliant for team building. Doing something other than work with your colleagues will not only build a better relationship but also encourage virtual collaboration.

Understand and empathise

And that brings us to our last point. Understand that we’re in a rubbish situation and try to empathise. Acknowledge that your team might be struggling more than usual, and they may be finding it difficult to motivate themselves. If there was any time to be kind and understanding now would be it. So, communicate lots, have regular catch-ups, use remote working tools and invest in team building. That’s how you can encourage virtual collaboration with your team.

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