Collaboration in the new normal of remote work

Many organizations around the world have dramatically increased remote working as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Chances are, people in your organization are already working from home or about to make that transition. We are not sure how long this will last, but we know that our teams need to find a way to perform despite remote working becoming the ‘new normal’.

At one point in my career I managed a global team of 75 people in a dozen cities and five continents. While it is challenging, collaboration with a highly-remote team is possible. Remote collaboration requires a deliberate approach and ongoing monitoring.

Collaboration in remote work
Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

How will remote work impact collaboration within your organization?

Let’s say that one month ago, we asked your team for their opinion on the following statement:

“Teams in our company collaborate well with each other” What do you think the average response would have been, one month ago, on a scale of 1 – strongly disagree to 10 – strongly agree?. Now envision all of your workers having to collaborate remotely. What impact will this have on collaboration? How would it change their response to the statement above if we asked for their perspective again in 60 days?

There are three fundamental steps to improve remote collaboration.

1. Identify your current strengths and challenges for collaboration. It is really important to start from a place of insight. This will help you understand where you see strong collaboration and where it is below your expectations. As you build a plan to support remote collaboration, it’s helpful to understand what was working and what wasn’t working when people were co-located. If it would help you gain insight, we offer a free, 5-minute High-Performance Index Leader Evaluation that assesses how well you think leaders help teams align and collaborate. It takes five minutes to complete and we will debrief it with you for free.

2. Build a plan that incorporates this insight. Next we want to build a plan, incorporating data from various sources on current levels of collaboration. It is beneficial to segment data by each functional area so that we focus on the areas of highest concern.

3. Use pulse checks to monitor collaboration. It would always be difficult to suddenly transition to a remote workforce. This is even more difficult in a high-anxiety environment where new challenges may arise at any moment. Since the situation is fluid, we suggest that organizations pick the top 5 areas of concern for collaboration and ‘pulse’ those on a monthly basis with employees. Using a monthly pulse survey helps you quickly identify where you are making progress on collaboration and where there is risk.

If you would like to learn more about how you can improve collaboration for remote teams, take our 5-minute SupportingLines High-Performance Index™ Leader Evaluation and we will provide a free debrief of your results.

Great leaders see supporting lines, not reporting linesTM.

Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith

Jeff is the Founder & CEO of SupportingLines. He is also a certified Master Corporate Executive Coach, seasoned C-suite business leader and yoga instructor.

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