The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is surely going to be a lasting one. There is probably no going back to business as usual for organizations. You can expect work-from-home to be the way of working for the foreseeable future. In fact, some companies may even consider embracing the concept forever, at least for a part of their workforce that can operate remotely and still be productive in their roles. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the pandemic is a catalyst for the widespread adoption of the remote working model.
Moving on to this working model, businesses and employees have realized the value of connections. And thankfully, virtual collaboration has made it possible for small and large teams to connect just the way they could in a physical office. The only way to survive and thrive in the pandemic and beyond is to leverage virtual collaboration to your advantage. Here are some ways that businesses can do it.
Have regular check-ins and direct reports
For teams to give their best in remote settings, weekly one-on-ones are literally essential. One-to-one interactions are also valuable for getting direct reports, diving into the deepest details of projects, and understanding the challenges of your employees. Virtual collaboration tools let you have such sessions as well as scheduled meetings with the team together. Ideally, you should set a date and time for such meetings and have clear agendas too, so that people are prepared when they come in virtually. Having virtual stand-ups is a good idea for team briefing sessions, which let you convey key messages without wasting time.
Keep people productive with high-quality remote experiences
The biggest challenge for remote work is productivity, which becomes hard to achieve when people do not work in office settings. Some people can be super-productive this way, while others may struggle amid the distractions at home. Still, there is much that you can do to keep everyone at their productive best. This is absolutely doable if you focus on providing them high-quality remote experiences. Give them all the tools which they may need to work smoothly. The best laptops, cameras, and headsets make meetings lifelike while software tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Slack boost productivity as well. Encourage them to use video communication as it fosters closer connections between people and eliminates the feeling of social isolation.
Share the important document and provide access to the right people
Another important way that businesses can employ virtual collaboration is by sharing important documents so that the team members have everything they need to operate seamlessly. Use a reliable file management application that enables the secure file sharing for you and the employees. Ensure that you provide access to the right people so that they don’t hit roadblocks. At the same time, setting permissions for files and apps is equally important if you don’t want critical data and information to get into the wrong hands or even be lost accidentally.
Go the extra mile with employee motivation
Although virtual collaboration has immense benefits from the productivity and performance perspective, you can actually go the extra mile with employee motivation as well. This is something critical during a crisis because people are bound to feel stressed and isolated when cooped up at home. Business leaders need to understand that the employees need a pat on the back right now and the best way to do it is through virtual interactions, rather than just dropping a line via email. There is much you can do- from one-to-one sessions to virtual town halls to take opportunities to motivate and encourage people so that they can keep going. Such interactions enable presence and transparency, which go a long way in instilling confidence and allaying apprehensions.
Lead teams and customers to the new normal
As businesses navigate through the challenging situation, they have clarity on one thing- this is going to be the new normal. And that’s exactly what they need to make the teams comfortable with, which can be handled with virtual collaboration. Being in touch is as vital to the customers as it is to the teams. Rather than just being in touch with phone calls, emails and newsletters, try to be up close with the customers through video calls. People are craving connections and making that extra effort would surely foster customer and employee loyalty. Businesses that are willing and able to innovate with virtual connections would be able to emerge strong through the crisis and thrive in the post-pandemic era as well.
Virtual collaboration has huge potential, today and in the future. Mastering it boils down to bringing together a stellar team, providing them with the best tools available and equipping them with efficient processes to stay connected even while they aren’t working from one location.