How to Improve Collaboration Among Employees Working Remotely

Communication and collaboration tools have been a lifeline for employees working from home. Voice and video conferencing, chat and instant messaging, presence, and document sharing have enabled remote workers to stay in contact with colleagues and streamline workflows.

Remote communications

Communication and collaboration tools have been a lifeline for employees working from home. Voice and video conferencing, chat and instant messaging, presence, and document sharing have enabled remote workers to stay in contact with colleagues and streamline workflows.

At the same time, however, many remote workers are experiencing communication overload that saps productivity, increases anxiety and makes work-life balance difficult. In one recent study, 57 percent of organizations said their employees are struggling with remote communication fatigue, and 32 percent said staff are finding it difficult to adapt to new forms of communication. A survey by TELUS International found that 80 percent of remote workers have trouble “shutting off” in the evening.

These challenges can be overcome by a collaboration strategy that focuses on the right tools and the most effective means of utilizing them. Here are some key points to consider.

Lay the ground rules. One of the benefits of remote work is that it gives employees the flexibility to take a break when family priorities need attention. However, working from home doesn’t mean employees should be available at all hours. A manager might find it most efficient to send project-related emails at night, but team members shouldn’t be expected to respond if it’s not an emergency. Setting the right expectations can relieve a lot of frustration.

Understand limitations. It’s important to recognize that collaboration tools have limitations that can result in miscommunications. For example, online chat and instant messaging are great for the quick exchange of information without the latency of an email thread, but they offer very little context. Workers should be ultra-clear to avoid misunderstandings that result in errors, delays and hurt feelings.

Leave room for camaraderie. Communication and collaboration should not be all business. Setting aside time for socializing, celebrations and acknowledgments can help strengthen relationships and lay the foundation for improved collaboration. Team leaders and managers can lead the way by planning virtual “coffee breaks” and lunches.

Choose the right channel. Remote workers should be guided in choosing the most appropriate channel for each communication. Video conferencing provides visual clues that can aid in brainstorming, complex decision-making and the exchange of nuanced information. By the same token, setting up a video conference when an email or instant message would suffice can quickly lead to video burnout.

Communication challenges can be overcome by a collaboration strategy that focuses on the right tools and the most effective means of utilizing them.

Implement an integrated platform. Remote workers will be more likely to use the right tools if all communication channels are integrated into one platform. Unified communications (UC) solutions provide a common interface for a variety of tools, making it easy to switch among them as needed. A UC platform also reduces the learning curve, simplifies administration and support, improves productivity and streamlines workflows.

 

Cloud-Based Unified Communication Solutions

A cloud-based UC solution eliminates the need to purchase, install and maintain on-premises equipment. A hosted solution also makes it easy to extend business-class communication capabilities to remote workers and to scale the system to meet growing requirements.

The GDS nTouch Hosted UC Service delivers an array of features in an intuitive interface that optimizes collaboration. The solution is hosted in our enterprise-class data centers and backed by our world-class 24x7 support. Our experts are here to help you develop a collaboration strategy that maximizes productivity and overcomes the challenges of a fragmented communications environment.

 


 

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