More and more enterprises recognize the positive impact collaboration can have on workplace performance and the bottom line. The challenge many enterprises face, however, is maintaining a collaborative work environment when employees are spread across the globe.
A recent article on Business.com explains this challenge faced by companies and shares a few tips companies can use to offset communication gaps with their remote workers.
One of the strategies is for companies and their IT teams to implement the right collaboration technologies for both in-office and remote employees to leverage. Some of the popular platforms enterprises can deploy as highlighted in the article include:
- HipChat – an app that encourages communication in a relaxed online environment where employees can come together and share files and messages on a private network.
- Slack – an instant messaging platform that helps employees connect instantaneously as an alternative to traditional email.
- Video collaboration – face-to-face interaction through video conferencing platforms.
While there is a myriad of communication tools in the marketplace, IT teams must ensure remote workers have access to the same platforms in-office employees have that enable effective communication. Also, once IT trains remote employees on how to use new collaboration tools, it is imperative employees receive proper coaching from management around which communication technology is appropriate to use that suits the level of conversation and desired goals.
For instance, it doesn’t make sense to jump on a video call every time a document needs to be reviewed. Nor does it make sense to utilize chat or email as a communication platform when trying to build and discuss a strategy – video would be the better option to collaborate.
Jeff Rodman, Co-Founder of Polycom, a global leader in providing enterprise-grade HD video conferencing and telepresence solutions, shares his insights about escalating communication-based on the complexity of the topic.
For very short and explicit communication, texting, email – or maybe even Slack – would be an appropriate communication tool to use. The value equation of time spent on the value received can’t be beaten with these type of communications. However, for more complicated themes, a phone call would be much better. Then for true collaboration instead of a physical meeting, audio plus video delivers the most value.
“Let’s say you’re developing software in a cloud environment. Both the work and the concept of location can become very abstract. We’re all social beings, and in those circumstances video can become the connective tissue of the organization, binding us to our colleagues and our collective goals.” – Jeff Rodman, Co-founder of Polycom
Of course, it’s important that enterprises recognize that no technology can replace in-person collaboration, and video conferencing should not be used as a substitute to a meeting in person. Even 37signals, the creators of Basecamp, a popular web-based project management and collaboration tool, recognizes the importance of meeting in-person.
While 37signals has a product that simplifies collaboration from a distance, the company passionately believes that meeting in-person is valuable, which is why they have their employees meet in-person twice per year to improve team cohesion.
Large global enterprises operate with employees dispersed globally, and scheduling in-person collaboration is not always practical from a time and cost component. This is why companies, like 37signals, limit their in-person meetings each year and rely on simple to use HD video as an in-between solution to help facilitate meetings that would take place in-person.
Video is also used as an effective communication tool to humanize employee relationships and create more emotional connections than if employees were regulated to only voice and text in-between those in-person meetings.
Help Scout, a popular web-based help desk designed for a great customer experience, is an example of a company that uses video for effective internal collaboration to enhance employee relationships and culture among their remote work teams. The company features a fun, weekly video series that keep the remote team up to date about latest features for their customers, company-wide news, birthdays, and more. From the company’s website:
“While we have a small office in Boston, our entire team is free to work remotely from wherever they choose. We overcome remote challenges through transparency, trust, and video conferencing. The reward is worth the effort – we’ll take talent, skill, and diverse perspectives over local geography any day.”
Efficient collaboration has a fundamental impact on workplace innovation, performance, culture and a company’s bottom line. IT must ensure the right collaboration technologies are in place to bridge communication gaps between remote and in-office workers, as well as train employees to utilize the appropriate platforms to sustain effective workplace collaboration across physical boundaries.