By Lindsay Crafford, Content Marketing Manager, LMI
There was once a time in the business world when companies and managers were limited when it came to hiring. They could recruit only those candidates who lived within commuting distance of their nearest office or were willing to relocate.
Thanks to new technologies like video conferencing and collaboration tools, remote work has grown rapidly in popularity throughout the last several years. It offers businesses a larger pool of talent from which to hire and allows talented employees to live and work anywhere without sacrificing job prospects.
Along with the growth of remote teams, plenty of challenges have sprung up. One of the biggest pitfalls? Collaborating effectively. It’s difficult to truly work together when separated by state lines and timezones. But with these 4 easy steps, you can radically improve your team’s ability to get the job done from anywhere.
Step 1: Keep meetings quick and tactical
When your team collaborated closely in a physical office space, that was one thing. Collaborating as a remote team leaves you with one simple reality: more meetings. But fear not, they don’t have to be painful.
Just because you need meetings in order to get organized for collaboration doesn’t mean you need to have seven of them every day. When you set a new meeting, have a specific end-goal in mind. What do you need to get out of this meeting? Meetings without a clear objective easily get off-topic and become unproductive, and they may not even need to happen in the first place. If you can’t define that objective, don’t have the meeting.
The biggest benefit of video conferencing? It’s easier and quicker to hash out details face-to-face than it is through never-ending email chains. To reap the benefits, though, you and your team have to be ready to go from the moment you log in. Create a detailed agenda of what you’ll talk about in the meeting and ensure every attendee has a copy far in advance. Set the expectation that each team member is expected to come prepared to contribute their two cents in each meeting.
By the end of your meeting (ideally not that long after it starts), everyone should be able to walk away with clear, defined next steps. No team member should be in the dark about what’s expected of them and when it’s expected. It’s good practice to conclude each meeting with each attendee noting their own next steps, as they understand them.
Step 2: Prioritize team building
We’ve all had to work on teams we weren’t in love with. The condescending manager, the lazy coworker, the know-it-all – there are plenty of issues that arise when people have to work closely together.
The solution? Prioritize team bonding time and activities. It’s always easier to work with people we consider friends. We’re more understanding of their bad days, unafraid to push them when they need it, and are generally less stressed about collaborating.
No matter how distributed your team is, make time for face time. And while these days, face time just means an active webcam, you can still schedule gatherings to catch up with your team.
It’s also important that team members bond on more than a work level. To that end, it’s okay to open up a meeting with friendly chatter or close it out with discussion of everyone’s weekend plans. Team members who can connect on a deeper level will naturally work better together and be more willing to go the extra mile for each other.
It’s also important that your team is filled out with compatible coworkers. If your company or team has a distinct culture, make a point to look for those characteristics when it’s time to hire a new team member.
Step 3: Compensate for timezone differences
While timezones aren’t a problem for every remote team, they usually become a hurdle for most. How can you schedule meetings that are convenient for everyone when one person is in California and the other in France? When you start adding in really dispersed timezones, it gets more and more difficult to collaborate.
The most important way to fight this is just to ensure everyone knows where the rest of the team is based. If someone in California repeatedly sets meetings for 10am PST, team members in France might grow a little wearied – and vice versa. Eliminate the potential of erratic scheduling by educating the whole team.
Once you know where everyone is in the world, make a big effort to schedule meetings, brainstorm sessions, and any other collaborative activities for a time that’s at least reasonable, if not convenient, for everyone who needs to attend.
Step 4: Get the right tools
Prior to the start of the pandemic, the reason remote work gained such popularity was because of the abundance of software and tools that were available. There are literally thousands of solutions that work to address remote work’s biggest challenges – you just have to find the right one for your team.
As remote work experts, we know that being a remote worker brings today’s workforce a unique set of challenges – from struggling to stay focused to feeling distant and isolated from your peers. Here are some ways a video conferencing solution like GoToMeeting can improve your remote workflows.
If sharing is caring, then GoToMeeting cares a lot. Screen sharing is a top feature among our users, but remember that it’s not just for meeting hosts! GoToMeeting allows organizers to pass the baton to anyone else in the meeting. This lets you seamlessly transition the meeting along from topic to topic, regardless of whether the next person is sitting next to you in the room or working remotely.
Best of all, versatile screen sharing is only the beginning. GoToMeeting’s drawing tools and virtual whiteboarding take video conferencing to another level. All participants can draw on, highlight, or emphasize anything shared on-screen making even the most remote worker feel like they’re is in the room.
As a result of COVID-19, collaboration these days extends far beyond the office walls. You might be hunkered down in your apartment; or maybe you’ve found yourself working remotely from a relative’s house in a different state. But GoToMeeting is built to support you no matter where you are. Our full suite of mobile apps has you covered. Download the GoToMeeting app for a full range of features when you need to host or join a meeting from your phone (iOS or Android) or tablet!
Don’t miss a beat with cloud recording
We can’t all make every meeting, especially if there are dozens of people involved. When you add remote workers into the mix, schedules align less frequently than the planets. But missed meetings don’t have to ruin your remote productivity. GoToMeeting allows for unlimited cloud meeting recording to easily record and share your meetings with anyone. Pair that with our new Smart Meeting Assistant feature and you can even share the meeting’s transcript with colleagues whether they attended the meeting or not, so everyone – no matter where they are based – can mine the meeting gold.
Is your office implementing a hybrid model, with some employees returning to the office and others staying remote? A conference room kit like GoToRoom can be the perfect middle-ground. From turnkey installation to streamlined collaboration, GoToRoom – with hardware partners like Poly, Dolby, and Logitech – utilizes GoToMeeting to give users a familiar and intuitive meeting interface that makes it simple for first time organizers to jump into a session in seconds.
Work together, better
Working and collaborating with a remote team undoubtedly poses its own unique challenges. But remote work is growing because of the flexibility it allows both employees and companies to live and work anywhere in the world and hire for top talent despite the limitations of geography.
With the four steps outlined above, your remote team can learn to collaborate across the miles as if they were sitting in the same room.