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Team Collaboration

How to Collaborate Effectively if Your Team is Remote (6 Tips)

April 21, 2020

In a matter of weeks, the way many teams thought about collaboration has been flipped on its head, and experts say this is less of a blip and more of a new normal.

In this new normal, we look to teams who are already thriving in dispersed, global, and remote working environments. Organizations with remote working in their DNA know what it takes to collaborate across time zones and continents, all with different schedules, work hours, and customs. So, for those of us new to this type of remote collaboration, what can we learn from our counterparts? 

At Ombud, we have experience with these global teams and have been consulting with them on how to increase their collaboration for years. Companies like Instructure, for instance, have been able to regionalize and scale their proposal content in order to increase their proposal capacity by 200%

Successful global teams focus on three main areas: centralizing collaboration, clearly communicating, and managing team accountability. 

Centralize Collaboration

The most effective remote organizations make collaboration easy and natural. To do so, you’ll need to centralize that collaboration and make sure your systems and tools talk to each other with these considerations: 

Collaborate directly in documents/projects

Whether you’re in Google Drive or a content collaboration platform like Ombud, it’s standard to be able to comment and adjust content directly in the document at hand. If you’re still using local-desktop solutions, it may be time to move your authoring to the cloud. This will not only support real-time collaboration, but provide full version history and eliminate potential overwriting of content.

Integrate your tools

In 2020, system integration across your revenue generation toolset is a must-have versus a nice-to-have. Integrate your CRM with your sales response system to increase transparency across your revenue teams: sales, solutions engineering, marketing, proposals, and more. Integrate your authoring system to your chat software for clear collaboration and conversations on specific projects. Ombud offers free Salesforce and Slack integrations to help boost the free flow of information. The more you can integrate and connect your tools, the fewer questions you’ll have to field and more time you save. 

Clear & Concise Communication

What may have been a quick roll over to someone’s desk can now turn into a 15-minute back-and-forth chat or text string. These ad-hoc, virtual conversations can also lead to miscommunication in content and tone. The best remote teams we’ve worked with embrace a couple key communication habits in their dispersed settings: 

Set clear communication channels

Create separate channels (i.e Slack or Microsoft Teams) or group chats for different projects. This will consolidate conversations across your various projects or initiatives to drive clarity and organization. With Ombud’s free Slack integration, you can create a channel for each workspace allowing you to push notifications from the workspace. Now is a great time to audit the systems and tools integrations available within your tech stack to drive more seamless communication for your team. 

This not only applies to specific projects, but specific types of questions as well. Do you have a quick yes or no question? That could quickly be answered in chat. Do you have a more open-ended question that may involve a collaborative discussion? Add that to your agenda for a team sync. The idea here is to minimize the “noise” for your team as well as the miscommunication that can occur.

Set up a regular team sync

In a traditional office, it may be easy to check-in with your team and get them focused on the correct priorities. In a fully remote setting, this can be a challenge. Scheduling a regular cadence for video check-ins or virtual stand-up meetings can provide time for conversations on more complex or strategic items. We find some customers leveraging this time for creative brainstorms or to align on business development pursuits. These syncs are also a great way to boost team connection and morale when being face-to-face may not be possible.

Keep Your Team Accountable

In a remote world, it can be hard to keep track of how your team is working through their tasks and what they’re achieving. Keep your team accountable without micromanaging from afar by striving to:

Clearly delegate and assign tasks

Being clear with expectations and delegation is more important than ever. With Ombud, you can assign down to the individual question or task within a workspace. We also provide “entry statuses” so you can see the exact status of every question in a workspace. These visual cues signal how far along everyone is and provide a clear picture of how each task is progressing.

Keep progress transparent

If it’s clear how far along a task is, there’s no need to ping your team and check in on how they're doing. With Ombud, you can see a full report of each task and it’s progress on a specific workspace or holistically across all workspaces. Keeping progress transparent is also relevant for completed projects and ROI measurement. In Ombud, you have the ability to pull reports like these so everyone stays on the same page.

A Final Consideration About Remote Team Collaboration

The more quickly teams adapt to this new normal, the better off they’ll be. This adaptability doesn’t just relate to your team’s systems and output, but also to their well-being in the current climate. Many of our clients are finding the lines of work and home become increasingly blurry, for example, within the work from home setting. Their best and most consistent advice in making this transition smooth is to extend empathy to your team members. 

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