Remote collaboration is now more of a challenge given that remote work is likely here to stay, one way or another. Learn how to overcome remote team collaboration challenges effectively within your organization using proven and tested methods to encourage strong team ethic within your organization or business.
Remote Team Collaboration Challenges
Knowledge sharing and collaboration are hard enough when teams are working side-by-side in the office. In a virtual environment, they can feel next-to-impossible. Most companies have responded to these limitations by scheduling more Zoom meetings and adopting tools like Microsoft Teams enterprise-wide. However, even the plethora of technologies developed specifically to address this challenge have not moved the needle.
Ineffective knowledge sharing has a huge cost, both in employees’ time and impact on customers. According to researchers in Harvard Business Review, “Newly remote workers are often surprised by the added time and effort needed to locate information from coworkers. Even getting answers to what seem like simple questions can feel like a large obstacle to a worker based at home.”
Research shows employees waste 30% of their time looking for or recreating information that already exists. In addition, when employees cannot get the information they need, it often results in lost revenue.
Moreover, despite some research showing remote workers are more productive, a recent survey by Lucidspark found that 43% of C-suite respondents reported delays to major launches, campaigns, and initiatives as a result of employees working from home. Leaders and their teams clearly need help finishing projects in a timely manner.
Current Solutions for Remote Team Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing Are Noisy and Interruptive
Tools like Slack and Yammer have been transformative for small teams, enabling quick, relevant communications on a variety of topics. They have been a welcome solution for the problem of email overload.
However, tools like Slack come with a substantial downside as well. Research done by Rescue Time estimated that employees who use Slack check communications tools once every five minutes. It is evident that switching from one task to another and monitoring an ongoing stream of unpredictable communication kills our productivity.
|“The future of office work won’t be found in continuing to reduce the friction involved in messaging but, instead, in figuring out how to avoid the need to send so many messages in the first place.” ~Cal Newport, author of A World Without Email and professor at Georgetown University, as quoted in the New Yorker|
How Remote Teams Can Collaborate without Constant Interruptions
We need to give employees access to each other in an efficient, collaborative environment. All the knowledge employees need to do their jobs exists in the network—they just don’t know where to find the information or who to ask for help.
With more remote workers and many people in different offices and time zones, it’s no longer so easy to pop over the cubicle and ask someone else a question—and that’s IF you even know who to ask. We have to make it easier to ask for help, even when our employees don’t know where to go.
Ideally, there should be a way to ask for help that is asynchronous. Getting constantly pinged all day by Slack or Yammer interrupts work flow and makes us less efficient. Additionally, not all teams are working in the same time zone. When we provide asynchronous knowledge collaboration, everyone gets a chance to contribute, decreasing groupthink and increasing the diversity of opinions.
Give employees easy access to each other’s experience, knowledge, ideas, connections, resources, and innovations. Let them do it quickly and efficiently. The result will be more effective, collaborative teams.
Knowledge Collaboration is Backed by Science
In 2013, organizational psychologist and Wharton professor Adam Grant took the business world by storm with his bestselling book Give and Take. The book’s simple but profound premise: generous people are more successful at work than selfish ones, a claim backed up by extensive empirical data. The book was named one of the best books of the year by Amazon, Apple, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, Oprah Magazine, Forbes, the Harvard Business Review, and the Washington Post.
Corporate America took notice. Leaders across industries have embraced the notion that individuals and companies do better when their organizations build and sustain a corporate culture of generosity.
While Grant focused on the importance of giving, University of Michigan Professor Wayne Baker has done decades of research on the art and science of asking for help at work. His book, All You Have to Do is Ask, shares his finding that the willingness and ability to ask for help is just as crucial to success as giving, but can be even harder to cultivate.
Asking for help and giving help are two sides of the same coin. Creating a culture where people can do both easily, efficiently, and asynchronously has huge advantages for both individuals and companies.
Prepare for the Future of Work by Enabling Remote Team Collaboration
The way we work has changed forever. To deal with the challenges presented by an increasingly remote workforce, employers must be ready to innovate knowledge sharing and collaboration. Preparing for the future of work means making it easy for employees to share knowledge easily, quickly, and efficiently, building relationships and working smarter at the same time.