Share the Rules of Remote Collaboration

By Maria Forbes
October 27, 2020

It happened quickly; a massive reordering of the U.S. workplace has felt like a 2020 takeover. Watching the labor trends, we learn from a recent study of 12,000 professionals by Boston Consulting Group that about 40 percent of our workforce has had to make the transition from onsite to remote work. The scale of this transition has been colossal and change had to happen without preparation. Initially business leaders had to scramble to enable their teams to work remotely.
Once on boarded to a remote workspace, millions of professionals encountered unfamiliar experiences. Over the past eight months these experiences have provided new data worth considering, from how they maintain productivity to how they uphold and preserve relationships. Employee productivity has shown steady results, and in many cases has improved. Collaboration has been a bigger challenge as we are forced to communicate on remote platforms.
The ability to collaborate effectively has significant impact on how well we can sustain business and grow it, which then has great influence on the timing of business succession. Since our teams can no longer interact in the same physical space, it is more difficult to manage cohesion, something we previously achieved through time spent in the hallway, in a break room, or at lunches.
Leaders can help their teams to collaborate effectively. Have you communicated the rules of engagement? These unwritten expectations can be communicated verbally or non-verbally when teams are sitting in the same room. However, much has to be conveyed these days, to ensure successful collaboration in a remote setting.
Communicate the following to ensure collaborative success.

  • Is it okay to turn off your video during a Zoom meeting?
  • Can you take a break from work in the middle of the day, remove yourself from your laptop?
  • Should you mute your audio when someone is talking, to eliminate background noise?
  • Should you avoid multi-tasking during a meeting? It is not difficult to know that someone is doing other things at a remote meeting!
  • What are the digital communication norms for your team, and at what frequency? What needs to be communicated to everyone, and what does not!
  • How many meetings are too many? Successful collaboration includes individual work and collective work. Assign time for both.

2020 is a year of learning and adapting. As leaders work to keep teams motivated and productive, it is important to know the rules of engagement.  Assumptions are dangerous, whether your teams are made up of company veterans or new members, everyone needs to know and participate.  Start by writing what works and what doesn’t and then share the list.  This simple effort will improve your collaboration, ease anxiety and frustration, and help all members of your team to work confidently.

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