The most effective remote teams cooperate in a way that consciously helps persons working remotely. Please bear with me even if that may seem like circular reasoning.
In addition to enhancing their capacity to work together, their collaboration brings forth everyone on the team’s greatest ideas. The worst part is this When people collaborate in a single space, like an office, the same techniques improve teamwork and encourage idea generation.
The majority of individuals believe that remote collaboration is holding meetings and video calls using their preferred web conferencing platform.
However, meetings are among the poorest settings for coming up with ideas, deeply reflecting on others’ thoughts, or performing other significant cognitive tasks. Meetings are useful for quickly debating concepts and reaching choices, but collaboration goes well beyond that.
People find meetings draining since most company cultures don’t value efficiency. Meetings impede creativity most significantly (Opens in a new window). When they demonstrate their abilities and intelligence in a fresh setting, most people are more successful and inventive.
Since long before the COVID-19 outbreak, I have written about and engaged in remote work. The ideal way to collaborate while people are working remotely, along with other concerns linked to remote work, are discussed in my book “The Everything Guide to Remote Work”(Opens in a new window).
As I’ve spoken to leaders who manage remote organizations and read research on productivity in remote collaboration over the years, the assumption that meetings don’t bring out the best in people—and, in many respects, make distant work worse—has often come up.
What would be the ideal setting for collaboration if not a meeting?
Remote teamwork may and frequently should be asynchronous. That implies that not everyone’s participation in collaboration must occur simultaneously. You always have a choice because the greatest collaboration tools are designed to be used both synchronously and asynchronously.
Let’s utilize the scenario of a group coming up with suggestions for a fresh campaign. The traditional method of working would be to hold a meeting where everyone present is urged to share their ideas.
Setting up a shared document or virtual whiteboard using a program like Mural or Miro, as seen above and below, may be the new, remote-focused way of working.
You grant access to this shared online place to the entire team, outline the tasks you want them to complete there, and then give them a few days to add their thoughts and read those of other team members.
The advantages are almost too numerous to list, but the ones that matter most have to do with allowing people the time and freedom to work in the way that suits them best. These are a few:
Take the clock off. Everyone has time to come up with ideas rather than feeling constrained to doing so during a 45-minute discussion.
When we are most alert, brainstorm. Instead than holding meetings at random times, people can come up with ideas when their minds are at their most creative.
Develop concepts. Additionally, people are not under any time constraints to submit the first idea that comes to mind in its draft form, which gives them time to reflect on and improve their ideas.
People can also choose the most effective approach to communicate their ideas when there is less time pressure, whether that is by refining a written thinking or drawing it out.
Consider other people’s ideas and be inspired. Each person has the option to consider the ideas shared by others, think on them, and even draw additional inspiration from them for their own ideas.
As I previously stated, while these working techniques are far more common among distant teams who are compelled to reconsider collaboration, they are as accessible to and advantageous for in-person teams.
The fact that remote cooperation eliminates many of the ingrained prejudices of meeting culture is another crucial factor in its usefulness.
Men frequently speak more than women in situations when there are mixed genders, while women are more likely to be interrupted by persons of either gender than men are.
Making a collaborative session asynchronous avoids most of the “who’s talking more” problem by removing the real-time group dynamic of a meeting.
Asynchronous, remote collaboration is advantageous for shy, reserved individuals who have insightful information to contribute but dislike speaking up in group settings.
The same holds true for anyone who lacks a solid command of the language verbally, such as non-native speakers or people who have speech impairments.
Equally, those with impairments of all kinds benefit when they have the time to take in what others have said by reading or listening to it before deciding how best to organize their own comments.
Why have we traditionally expected participants to present their best ideas during meetings? This is illogical. Using the lessons learnt about collaboration from distant enterprises across the board will improve teamwork.
That does not imply that gatherings serve no use. More often than not, meetings are only useful for a tiny percentage of the collaboration work that needs to be done, yet too many organizations rely entirely on them to complete all tasks.
After everyone has had a chance to brainstorm and take notes, they can all look at the shared document and start a meeting to finish any work that would be best completed synchronously on a call. In fact, some of the online collaboration tools I’ve mentioned have audio or video meeting tools built into them.
So encourage remote collaboration techniques and the use of collaboration tools to give employees more chances to contribute their best ideas.