Most businesses encourage collaboration in the workplace as a means of driving productivity, engagement, and innovation. Employees can collaborate during meetings, over lunch, or at business get-togethers. What does business collaboration look like to you?
When you think of team collaboration, you might not picture remote employees working with other remote employees or in-house staff. Maybe you think remote workers are more limited when it comes to collaboration. But with 43% of employees working remotely at least part of the time, you must encourage virtual collaboration.
4 ways to increase collaboration in the workplace
Without effective collaboration, your business could suffer. According to one study, 96% of surveyed individuals reported that workplace failures are due to lack of collaboration. To avoid business setbacks, make sure collaboration is feasible for all employees.
Try these four tips to increase collaboration among your remote and in-house staff.
1. Onboard remote workers
If an employee doesn’t know their team members, has questions about their position, or doesn’t feel welcomed, they may have trouble collaborating. Effective onboarding familiarizes employees with your business and its culture, their job duties, and their team members.
Improve onboarding so employees don’t feel out of place. You shouldn’t gloss over the onboarding process when you hire remote workers.
Be sure to introduce remote employees to your workforce to encourage camaraderie. Getting to know co-workers can impact collaboration success later on.
Make sure your remote employees know how to get in touch with their co-workers and vice versa. You might consider publishing an employee directory that includes employee names, positions, email addresses, and fun facts. That way, employees can get to know one another and refer to the right people when they need to work together.
2. Use collaboration tools
Online collaboration tools make it possible for remote workers to stay productive and accountable. Plus, they connect all employees, which prevents operations from stopping due to lack of communication. Employees, and you, need to know what remote employees are working on.
So, what kinds of team collaboration tools will benefit your remote workforce? Aside from the traditional communication methods like email and phones, you can also encourage collaboration by using:
- Instant messaging platforms
- Video conferencing tools
- Project management software
Instant messaging platforms, such as Slack, make it easy to communicate with co-workers. Chats provide much faster response times than emails. Employees can send quick updates, ask questions, or send files through chat systems. And, employees can use chats to get to know one another, which may improve camaraderie and thus teamwork.
When you let employees work from home, video conferencing tools, like Google Hangouts or Skype, are a must. Video tools allow workers to communicate face-to-face, which can promote collaboration and build connections. Further, these collaboration tools for business let you see if employees are working and not committing time theft. Use video tools to involve remote employees in daily standups and other mandatory meetings.
With small business task management software, remote employees can collaborate on projects. Employees must see what tasks need to be done. And, they need to know which project is assigned to which employee. Project management software, like Trello, lets employees access documents and other resources in one organized location.
3. Optimize work schedules
One of the benefits remote employees can enjoy is flexibility. But, their schedules shouldn’t be so flexible that they work at inconvenient times. Remote employees’ work schedules should line up with your business hours for at least part of the time.
For example, one employee might work 8-5, and another 11-8. From 11-5, both employees are available for collaboration.
If employees work in different time zones, make sure their schedules line up for at least a few hours each day. That way, their co-workers can get ahold of them.
It can be difficult to keep up with an employee’s flexible work schedule. Use time and attendance software to track employee time. Letting employees clock in and out each day makes it easier for you to monitor when they are working.
You might also require employees to work in the office at least once per week. That way, employees can get face time with other employees. And according to one Gallup study, engagement is highest when employees work remotely and in the office.
4. Set up get-togethers
Include your remote workers in company get-togethers, like after-work events, company parties, and training sessions. Even though they don’t work in the office, they can still be involved in relationship-building activities.
If attending get-togethers in person is not possible, host virtual parties. Have your remote employees video call in and gather your in-house staff in a conference room. Some businesses even send food and drink to remote employees so they can feel like they are actually there. This way, employees can chat about non work-related topics.