With more employees working from home than ever these days, employees must understand how to collaborate in a remote or hybrid-remote environment. Further, managers and HR personnel must understand how to facilitate collaboration skills in the workplace.
Why is collaboration important
Even when most employees were in the office, the ability to collaborate is one of the most vital skills an employee could have. Collaboration is the foundation of teamwork. When you can work well with another individual or a group of individuals, you can get more done than if you worked alone. You can develop better ideas, complete tasks more quickly, and motivate each other for the tasks ahead.
In a remote or hybrid-remote environment, many aspects of in-person collaboration are lost. At work, a random chat at a water cooler or after hours might evolve into a brainstorming session. The nuances of body language are lost on phone conferences and not as readily apparent on video. And many people simply collaborate better when they are face-to-face with another person. Further, workers who had been used to in-person work, now dealing with prolonged isolation, may find it hard to concentrate, be productive, and collaborate.
However, with their offices closed or reduced to skeleton crews, many firms are only still in business due to the work of their remote teams. Whether an AP department works with other areas to reconcile invoices with goods receive or marketing teams work with sales to hold online product launch events, collaboration is fundamental to any business. Organizational collaboration and teamwork are crucial to maintaining and growing sales, keeping existing customers happy, and remaining profitable.
Most important collaboration skills
Collaboration itself is a catchall for several skills that help an individual work well with others. What does collaboration comprise? A collaborative employee can communicate effectively with others, engender trust, be flexible, and stay organized.
Collaboration starts with communication, both the substance of what you communicate and how effectively you share it with others. Many long-time onsite employees have found it more difficult initially to communicate in a remote working environment well. However, with the right communications tools, such as high-performing, low latency videoconferencing software, employees may be able to adjust more quickly to online meetings, present their ideas effectively, and work with others just as well as onsite.
To work well with others, you also need to inspire trust. Your co-workers need to believe you'll do what you say you will, count on your expertise and recommendations, and defer to you when there's a crisis. Effective communication is a cornerstone of engendering trust. The more you're able to share your thoughts, as well as the outcome of the steps you took, to your team, the more they will see they can depend on you to pull your weight and even take a leadership role.
Good collaboration also requires a high degree of adaptability and flexibility. Businesses are constantly evolving, as is the surrounding landscape. Employees and teams must adjust and adapt to changing circumstances by keeping an open mind about possible actions that can be taken and collectively developing new methods of operating. If they don't, they'll be unable to take advantage of opportunities and fail to identify and address emerging threats.
Keeping yourself organized and helping your team keep itself organized is also critical to collaboration. You can't expect to work well with others if you can't keep the team meeting schedule straight, don't have complete documentation, or can't articulate your progress clearly. Further, if no one on your team steps up to help keep everyone on task, people will leave your meetings with different understandings of the next steps and who is responsible for which action. It's one thing to have a robust videoconferencing system, easily share files, and poll attendees. But it's critical that someone on your team steps up and helps keep everyone on track.
Managers and human resources professionals can help facilitate these skills through training sessions that help employees nurture these skills in the context of a remote environment. But it's also important to have the right tools for collaboration. BlueJeans offers business and nonprofit teams a full range of collaborative tools from file sharing to chat capabilities. And its video conferencing capabilities can help ensure you can clearly meet with your team no matter where they are or what device they're using.