Most modern employees have an opinion on whether teamwork can happen solely online through video conferencing, instant messaging and the like.
Having used collaboration tools and worked with people in different places, modern information workers know the pros and cons of collaborating online.
Some people swear by remote collaboration, using it to work freelance or remote positions full time. Others still swear by face time and face time only. I fall between the two.
I was recently asked for my opinion on the matter, and, simply, I think there are times where it is really valuable to sit in the same room as your team. The key thing is to know when those times are.
On my teams, we often find that a project kickoff is a great time to get together. This is especially important for new teams, because face time provides an opportunity for people to socialize and develop a team bond. Establishing relationships between team members makes remote collaboration easier once everyone returns to their locations.
If you are a part of a dispersed team looking to improve online collaboration, here’s how I recommend you go about it.
First, get in the right mindset.
To me what’s most important for creativity and collaboration is the mindset. Come to the table with the right outlook. Creative thinking requires being open-minded, embracing others ideas and not focusing on the constraints. And it’s critical to listen and be engaged in the discussion.
The good news is that remote teams can achieve the right mindset just as easily as local teams. And you can replicate much of the engagement process and relationship building remotely with video conferencing. You also want to make sure you have great audio connections.
Then, create a visual environment.
Sketching and visual brainstorming are more challenging online. The reality is that visual online collaboration takes more setup and consideration than having everyone in the same room, but it’s not impossible. There are lots of great new solutions to create visual, collaboration online work environments.
At Citrix we often use and to sketch and share in real time across distance using Talkboard (for on-screen drawing) and Sightboard (for sharing whiteboard drawing). We connect face to face via webcam with GoToMeeting, where we can also share screens.
Enjoy the benefits of a happy team.
Remote collaboration tools empower teammates and provide new levels of freedom. I personally love that I can take a meeting from home, the office or on my commute. I’m not tied to any location, which not only provides me with more flexibility but also serves as a business continuity plan.
What I love even more about remote collaboration are the personal stories that our customers share with us. We hear about people building businesses with partners in different locations, enjoying improved sales thanks to the ability to connect face to face with prospects and many other business wins.
So, while I’ll always get my team in the same room on a regular basis, we’re also living and loving the freedom of collaborating from anywhere.