When it comes to remote work, one of the most difficult things is ensuring the efficiency of the collaboration process between workers. Unfortunately, maintaining a healthy virtual collaborative environment can be difficult, since people are not naturally programmed to be a part of virtual communities. However, it is not only possible to create and facilitate healthy virtual collaboration between workers, but it is also becoming increasingly easier. Many companies are now creating useful tools which aid in the online collaboration process. For example, Google workspace offers a variety of tools that are useful for different collaborative settings. The result of the ever-expanding array of online collaboration tools is the ability to create increasingly productive remote work environments.
Collaborate on Documents in Real-Time
One great advantage that virtual collaborative environments have over in-person environments is the ability to work on documents together in real-time. When two (or more) people work together on a project in a real-world setting, one person will usually talk and share his or her ideas while others listen. When he or she is done speaking, then another person will begin, and so on. Although this can be an effective way to communicate, working on documents in real-time has some significant advantages, such as the following:
- It allows for multiple people to express their ideas at the same time, without there being interruption and disorder. This can be useful since someone can read what other people have written on his or her own time, without having to interrupt what he or she is doing immediately.
- It enables more independence, without sacrificing the benefits of collaboration. For example, if one person is working on a portion of a document which deals with product management, and another person is working on the marketing strategy portion of the document, then both people can work independently, and then read and edit each other’s work when they have finished their respective sections. In this situation, you get the best of both worlds, since workers have both high levels of independence and cooperation.
Collaborating on documents in real-time, therefore, affords workers with an environment that can be more productive than working in person.
Create a Website For Only Your Team
Another great way to enhance the online collaboration process is to create a website specifically for your team. On this website there can be listed updates with regards to team projects, deadlines, and more, therefore providing a centralized hub outlining your team’s progress toward its goals.
Having a website can be a great way to enhance remote collaboration because workers will be able to go on the website from any device, whether it be a laptop, a smartphone, or a tablet. This allows workers to both take their work wherever they go and also check the status of their team’s projects without having to contact other people directly. Therefore workers can stay in the loop with minimal effort.
However, creating a website can be difficult, so it is no small task to create a website tailored to a particular team’s needs. Luckily, creating websites is easier than ever before, since there is ready-made software for making websites without the need to understand web design and computer programming.
Engage in Video Chats With Your Team
Something that can be difficult about online collaboration is the lack of face-to-face social interaction that is often necessary for creating a sense of community. Working individually and without interaction with others can create a sense of isolation, which over time can reduce someone’s morale. Video chats can combat the potential for isolation by fostering a sense of community, regardless of physical location. Just seeing the faces and hearing the voices of those who are your collaborators and colleagues can drastically increase someone’s productivity and mental well-being.
As elaborated upon previously, collaboration on documents in real-time has some advantages that in-person physical collaborations do not have. But with the option of video conferences, you really get not only the best of both worlds but the option of which world is most suitable for a particular task. At some times, you might want to collaborate in a more independent manner, while seeing what your colleagues are doing when you take a break from your work. At other times, however, it might be best for everyone to gather together face-to-face and discuss things one at a time. Having the option of choosing one or the other can be great for your team.
Engage in Virtual Chats
Something that’s in between the option of video chat and document collaboration in real-time is having a virtual chat. In this situation, workers can interact via messages in chat rooms. This strikes a balance between face-to-face cooperation, in which one person speaks at a time, and independent work in a document, where people are for the most part doing their own thing. Rather than one person speaking at a time, different people can be having side conversations with each other, while still being part of a larger group. This simulates many physical gatherings, in which people are mingling and discussing ideas together.
However, an added benefit that virtual chats have that physical gatherings do not, is the ability to read earlier messages and chats between different people. This is a great advantage since you get all of the benefits of people discussing things in a more one-on-one setting, without them missing out on the information and ideas discussed in other conversations.
Use Calendars That Your Entire Team Can See
An important part of any collaboration is having a richly structured schedule. This includes things like having deadlines, meetings, and synchronizing some people’s schedules when necessary. If each member of an online team has his or her own schedule, then it is likely that something will go wrong at some point — whether someone puts a wrong date in their calendar, or forgets altogether to put a date in their calendar, both of these can cause a major hindrance to the working process.
Luckily, with the ubiquity of time-management services which have the perk of creating schedules for groups of people, many of the issues that can arise as a result of workers having their own independent calendars are eliminated. Rather than several people looking at several different calendars to see when the next virtual meeting is, for example, they will all be looking at the same calendar. This obviously reduces the potential for errors relating to deadlines, meetings, and other such events.
Store Team Documents in a Single Location
One of the great advantages of online collaboration is the ability to have a centralized location to store documents such as text files, presentations, spreadsheets, and other documents. This is highly convenient since it allows each member of a team to locate all of the main files that are used for a project. Similar to how having a single calendar lowers the likelihood of workers getting off schedule from one another, having a centralized location for storing files can prevent workers from missing information that is vital for their project.
A common event in the workplace is for someone to send an email regarding a particular document, and have some workers not be able to find that document on their computer. This can obviously be a big hindrance to workflow, as it requires extra, yet trivial work. The process is much more streamlined when a team’s documents are located in a single location since this issue is eliminated completely by virtue of having all the main files located somewhere that any worker can access.
Have a Main Administrator To Centralize Control of Workers
While it may seem difficult to keep track of the perks of remote working listed above, it is actually very easy to ensure that all processes are streamlined and running smoothly. Having a single, primary administrator to organize all of the aforementioned processes can free up every other worker’s mental space, enabling them to focus their energy on more relevant tasks.
In this day and age, it is easier than ever to have highly successful, yet fully remote, collaborations. Not only are many of the benefits of an in-person work environment satisfied by myriad virtual options, but there are many added benefits of virtual collaboration that are simply not possible in the physical world. Some of these benefits include the ability to collaborate on documents in real-time, having virtual chat rooms where people can discuss their ideas both independently and collectively, and unified calendars which eliminate the concern of workers going off of their own independent schedules. Fortunately, the diversity of all these processes does not have to be overwhelming to keep track of for each worker, since the job of an administrator can be to ensure that every worker is kept in the loop at all times. Therefore online work environments provide not only many advantageous tools that are less common in real-world work environments but the potential for error can also be diminished, thus increasing your team’s productivity all around.
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