Successful virtual teams depend on solid communication skills, access to tools, and trust. While recent changes in the workplace have helped some employees to strike a better work/life balance, many others feel overwhelmed and isolated working virtually. In this article, successful entrepreneur Jason Kulpa suggests six ways to support a sense of security and foster camaraderie while working in a virtual environment.
The Value of Collaboration
When teams are collaborating, the entire organization benefits. Engaged employees are more satisfied in their work, more productive, and even healthier than their counterparts. According to Harvard Business Review, a values-based work culture driven by collaboration reduces workplace stress and increases wellness than many medically focused wellness programs.
A collaborative workplace attracts top talent and leads to higher retention rates. A culture that values the ideas and innovation of its team members naturally increases the commitment level of those team members.
But all of this is difficult to achieve in today’s virtual workplace. It’s even more complicated when co-workers only interact through online meetings and have no personal relationship with one another.
Fortunately, there are ways to improve collaboration even when your teams are scattered across the country or the world.
Improve Your Virtual Tools
You can’t expect employees to do their best work if you’re not providing them with the right communication tools. Conferencing apps, cloud-based document sharing, and a virtual “water cooler” where team members can share casual conversations are vital.
When you’re selecting virtual tools to use, focus on what will work best for your teams, not just what has the lowest cost for implementation.
Not every Zoom meeting needs to be a formal one. Members of the same virtual team can work together organically by “hanging out” on a video call. As questions arise, they can ask for feedback from co-workers and then go back to their private workspace, just as they would in the office.
Accidentally leaving a team member out of a meeting or another important communication loop will naturally increase feelings of isolation. Clearly defining team schedules, meeting times, deadlines, and expectations every week will help everyone know exactly what the team is doing and their role in reaching team goals.
Document Sharing with a Purpose
File-sharing services like Google Docs and Slack make it easy to share and review documents, but simply sharing files doesn’t always lead to collaboration. When team members share documents, turn on tracked changes, set a deadline for team members to review the doc, and be clear about the required feedback.
Maintain Regular Meeting Times
While working from home does allow for flexibility, it’s crucial to maintain some regular hours in which team members can connect with management and co-workers.
Vary Meeting Times
Yes, regular, dependable meeting times help improve collaboration, but it is also valuable to schedule some meetings to accommodate team members in different time zones. A little flexibility allows each team member to know that their time is as valuable as every other person working on the project.
About Jason Kulpa
Jason Kulpa is a serial entrepreneur and Founder and CEO of UE.co. Under his leadership, in 2018, Mr. Kulpa’s team of volunteers served at over 24 events to improve the San Diego community, including hosting a gala dinner to benefit people with autism. Jason’s foundational mission is to bring awareness to and increase inclusion of special needs causes.