The experts have been touting the importance of open communication and collaboration in professional environments for a few years now, but in the last few months, those values have become more important than ever. In the wake of the massive disruption to daily routines that has come with the spread of COVID-19, there has also been a massive reorganization of the work flow at major businesses, to allow more people to work from home safely. The result has been positive in many ways, and for companies that were already headed toward greater access to remote work opportunities, it has only accelerated the clock. For those who had barely started considering how collaborative work environments would help them do better, it provided a huge push toward adopting the technologies needed to have an effective mobile workforce.
New Opportunities and Challenges
If your business is just now adjusting to having part or all of its workforce operating from dispersed locations, you can learn a lot from the pioneers who have been working this way for the last decade or so. There are a lot of challenges to bringing people together online, but there are also a lot of opportunities. For example, many companies with no remote experience are attempting to coordinate standard business days and work hours with workers who now have to contend with childcare and other family needs happening in their work space, during work hours. By adjusting to a more asynchronous schedule that depends on written communication as much as possible instead of a standardized set of operating hours, you can alleviate some of those pressures, making it easier to get the best performance possible from employees. All it takes is a sense of when to prioritize real-time contact and when to let your team members work on a deadline that brings all their tasks together into a final product.
Values Needed in a Remote Collaborative Environment
Offices function on uniformity most of the time, even when they have flexible scheduling options and a generally open environment, but remote work thrives on letting workers personalize their experience to be as efficient as they can be. This takes an adjustment to core values that are not always common in traditional workplaces.
- Trust that work will be done on time and workers will ask for assistance with obstacles
- Open communication and transparency in all directions, not just when communicating up the chain of command
- Restructuring around goals and projects instead of set hours of operation
- Focus on effective communication with both clients and other team members
- Nurturing engagement to keep everyone in the loop as projects develop
The great part about these values is that they work to increase open communication and provide for a more creative and collaborative workplace even when they're used in a traditional brick and mortar office environment. That means you can adopt the best parts of remote work culture to help your team stay at peak performance when they must work remotely while counting on the benefits to carry over to times when they are working together in the same location as well. The individualization of work processes and the dependence on timely, productive communication over rote reporting on pattern also means streamlining feedback and questions to make sure you're coordinating talent instead of just doing paperwork, so it helps everyone.
Finding the Right Tools for an Open Workplace
Whether your team is going to be permanently remote or not, having a workplace that is set up to support remote work means being able to keep people in the loop even when they can't make it in, which is a great advantage for companies in places where inclement weather is a major consideration for part of the year, not just during extreme and prolonged emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic. To empower your people, you need to have the right tech tools, including migration and management services that let you keep the work flow moving as people contribute to each project. With the right VPN software, online document management tools, and digital office resources, you can do a lot to support your team in the office and outside it.
There's no one way to set up a supportive workplace that provides space for your team to collaborate, but there are a lot of values that must be honored to make your unique way of working fit this format. Luckily, there are also great tools to help you along when you decide to commit to a more open, communicative model for worker collaboration.
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