Pre-pandemic, collaboration was something that just happened. Most of us worked in an office side by side with team members and took for granted that we could interact on an impromptu basis or stumble upon serendipitous encounters.
“Two heads are better than one” — a saying that dates back to 1546, predating Zoom meetings and Teams meetups. It’s a simple fact that sometimes two or more minds generate better ideas than one. What happens when you’re stumped on a problem? How do you know if your design can be better?
The keyword here is perspective. Sometimes an outside perspective can give your project the boost it needs to take off.
Uniting more than one perspective, teammates can learn from one another, growing in their fields. Veteran employees can share their knowledge and experience while new employees contribute fresh perspectives. As long as we can interact with our fellows, we can learn. Everyone has something to offer and bring to the table.
Jump ahead to the pandemic. For the past two years, managers have struggled to find the best recipe to encourage remote teamwork and collaboration. Since COVID-19 began, nearly 70 percent of full-time workers have transitioned to working from home. Moving forward, 92 percent of workers expect to work from home at least one day per week and 80 percent expect to work remotely at least three days per week.
The struggle is real: remote work is here to stay, at least in some capacity. So, how do you foster relationships, teamwork, and collaboration in a remote workforce?
Bring on remote collaboration
Remote collaboration is endlessly changing, making it quite a challenge to solve. In the new year, many companies are reopening their office spaces. On any given day, some of their workforces will be on-site and others will be remote. In other situations, companies have transitioned to a permanently remote workforce. Facebook, Shopify, Apple, and Slack are now offering fully remote work options.
In the words of Gordon Ramsay, “never trust a skinny chef.” In this case, it’s a reassuring thought to know Slack employees are confident transitioning to fully-remote work using their business communication platform.
Many companies are confident with their decision to offer fully-remote work conditions. Why? How are these companies managing to maintain teamwork, collaboration, and company culture with remote employees?
Read on to find out how.
Strategies for effective workplace collaboration — while remote
Below are three key strategies for effective workplace collaboration. For the most part, one or more of these strategies are underrated by managers — a mistake that causes a disconnect in the workplace. Here’s why.
The best way to recreate the in-office experience is to encourage ad-hoc meetings or phone calls. If you have a question, phone your teammate. Don’t hesitate, don’t dally, just do it. Unfortunately, the process isn’t that easy.
Since the introduction of smartphones, many of us have gotten phobic of talking to anyone on the phone instead of texting or instant messaging. The same goes for teleconferencing. When someone calls you on Slack, Teams, Google Hangout, or whatever platform you use, you think you’ve either done something wrong or your teammate has. Neither prospect bolsters you to answer the call.
However, when you’re in the office, a colleague might stop by your desk because they had something to share, wanted to hear about your week, or for an impromptu work-related catch-up. These meet and greets foster relationships and company culture, building a welcoming environment that encourages idea sharing and collaboration.
The trick to developing relationships remotely is to get accustomed to impromptu, ad-hoc calls and catch-ups. To do this, managers need to encourage their employees to be active in their community while setting an example to follow. Employees need to take the plunge every single day until calling teammates on a regular basis becomes second nature.
Regular team meetings
During the pandemic, roughly 65 percent of adults experienced an increase of loneliness. Isolated living conditions along with remote work conditions are a recipe to make people feel alone and cut off from their teams.
In the office, regular team meetings were simply an ideal time to share work-related advice and updates. However, in the face of remote work, regular meetings are so much more. They provide the opportunity to recreate the watercooler chat or lunchroom conversations your teammates would have in person.
As a manager, you may have scheduled regular team meetings, yet cancel half of them due to lack of projects to talk about. Don’t belittle the power of natural conversations where teammates simply talk about what’s on their minds.
Stories about, say, a cat getting stuck in a tree can easily transition to work-related topics while generating the camaraderie and culture we desperately lack with remote work. Regular team meetings, even if they’re sweet and short, give teammates an opportunity to connect and share ideas they might not have otherwise brought up.
Yes, many companies are offering remote work: keyword being “offering.” Although we need to be fully trained and climatized for remote work, most companies still provide in-office collaborative workspaces for their employees.
If you Google the remote policies of the above companies — Facebook, Shopify, Apple, and Slack — you’ll see phrases such as “employees will have the option to work remotely,” employees “can request remote work,” or the company will be “primarily remote.” For the most part, most companies will still have on-site spaces for employees to meet up.
Ana Krizmancic, CMO of Joan, doesn’t believe workplaces will ever be fully remote. As much as we’ve improved remote working, there are some things that can never be recreated: watercooler chats, face-to-face experiences, solving a problem side by side with your teammate… there will always be a certain power behind the in-person collaboration.
Instead, Krizmancic feels hybrid workspaces will be the office spaces of the future. In fact, they’ll be key hubs for collaboration and teamwork. In concept, teammates will commute to the office once or twice a week, generate ideas as a whole, and trading perspectives. Afterward, the teammates will go back home and work on the same ideas until the end of the week.
Collaboration spaces can be used on a regular basis or as impromptu workstations — whichever solution helps the most. However, for a collaborative space to be effective, it’s going to need a robust room booking system.
Imagine all of your teammates commuting into the office only to find there are no available workspaces, or that the remaining workspaces are too small, too dark, too exposed… Overall, not the right workspace for your team and their project. A predicament that is easily solved by Joan’s meeting room booking solutions.
Meet Joan 6 Pro
Joan 6 pro has been refined to be the perfect office solution to support a hybrid workspace. The setup is straightforward and simple, requiring three easy steps: connect to Wi-Fi, add your office calendar, and attach the display to virtually any surface using the Smart magnetic mount.
Using the Joan booking app, teams can guarantee they’ll have an available workspace when they arrive at the office. The wall-mount display shows the room’s schedule, helping drop-ins know if the room is booked or not. Users can reserve a room or space directly from the touchscreen display, eliminating interruptions and double bookings.
What’s more, the display is battery-powered, making it cordless and classy for any office environment. The low-energy display only needs to be charged twice per year, making it virtually maintenance-free.
Also, Joan analytics and room settings can help facilitate contact tracing and limiting room occupancy. For more information, find out why you should implement a meeting room management system during COVID-19.
With employees returning to the office, it’s essential to invest in resources that will help smooth the transition. Joan 6 Pro was designed for seamless workplace management, providing huge time and real-estate savings and improving the overall employee experience.
For more information about how Joan can help, have a look at our Joan solutions.