With hybrid work and remote teams becoming the norm, the focus on workplace collaboration has increased significantly. There’s cadence, much like music, in tasks that require team efforts like shared brainstorming, group projects, and other activities that require a team to come together. Undoubtedly, the best teams tend to function like well-oiled engines and unlock group synergies to achieve specific goals.
According to Finances Online, the estimated value of the global online collaboration market is estimated to reach $13.5 billion in 2024. In May 2020 alone, during the pandemic, enterprise devices witnessed a 176% increase in the installation of collaboration apps. It is quite likely that the number of collaboration apps installed is significantly higher today.
While digital and video-conferencing tools, as well as devices, facilitate collaboration, the dynamics are decidedly different in-person compared to collaborating online. Previous studies have depicted that people are more innovative and collaborative in person vs virtually. However, a well-planned approach towards building collaboration in virtual teams can yeild great results. Based on insights from Forbes, let’s take a look at what some of these strategies are.
The lines between work and home have increasingly become blurred with remote work. It either the steady humdrum dissonance of work and meetings or a perennial quietness that feels unnatural. An article by The Economic Times highlights that 41 percent of workers have stated that a lack of work-life segregation has led to increased stress levels. Whereas Microsoft’s Work Trend Index highlights that India has the highest percentage of workers facing burnout at 29 %.
Another alarming revelation in the aforementioned Work Trend Index is that chats between 5 pm and midnight have increased drastically among Microsoft Team users. In other words, prior to the pandemic, it was rare to have most workers put in hours after 5 pm but off late, putting in more hours at work has become more common.
It is therefore imperative to have clearly defined boundaries for work from home. Setting timeframes that are mutually agreed upon for you and your team can reduce stress and mitigate the risk of burnout significantly.
Strengthening individual work connections
Individual meetings are more effective than group meetings in forming strong, honest relationships among team members, and preserving these links is critical for leaders right now. Create a tracking system for each employee that reports directly to you so you can see when you last spoke on the phone with them.
A Harvard Research finds that the greatest predictor of reduced stress and increased happiness is social connections. Being happier is known to impact success and performance. For instance, MET Life hired salespeople based on optimism and not aptitude. It discovered that these salespeople with an optimistic attitude outsold their pessimistic counterparts by 19% in year 1 and 57% in the second year.
Having one-on-one conversations with team members as a leader will help you increase your compassion and also identify certain challenges that team members may be facing, which would otherwise not be discovered in group meetings.
Unless you have terrific cheekbones and a jaw structure, the screen tends to flatten you. As a result, your emotions and intent are also perceived as being flat. You are more difficult to comprehend than in person. As a leader, it’s possible that your concern or empathy are going unnoticed.
This is why, as a leader, you can exercise empathy or use story-telling. A study by Harvard finds that specific brain chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin, and cortisol are released when we are engaged with a story. Being empathetic also engaged the mirror neurons in your team members and can help overcome many of the limitations of virtual meetings.
The road ahead
The challenges in handling remote teams are also an opportunity to widen your horizons as a leader. Using tactics that suit the current remote-working environment can not only expand your horizons as a leader but also enable you to discover new ways to make your teamwork in a more cohesive fashion.