5 tips to improve your online collaboration

Lockdown. The memories of its trials and tribulations are slowly but surely retreating to a deep, dark corner of our minds. But before scenes from those testing times fade away, business owners must take every opportunity to reflect on what worked well for them, what needs to be improved in case there’s a third round, and also what new digital strategies they want to adopt permanently. 

Here are five tips for businesses wanting to collaborate and communicate better online, or maintain remote work practices going forward.

1. Keep it simple

There are a bunch of different digital tools out there that you could make use of, but in this case, more is not merrier. Instead, pick a select few tools that offer the features you need, at a price point that fits, and stick to them. Each of those tools should have a distinct purpose, whether that’s collaborating on Google Docs, creating online brainstorms on Miro, tracking the progress of projects or campaigns on Trello, or using Slack for your communications. The Mind Lab’s Digital Skills for the Workplace programme can introduce you to the most popular and effective tools to help your business thrive in each of these areas.

2. Never forget a face

Speaking face-to-face (even digitally) can help stave off the loneliness that many of us battle when working from home. So keeping in touch with your team through video conferencing platforms like Google Hangouts is a sure-fire way to help keep their spirits high and everyone motivated. Not only that, but video conferencing aids in effective communication – never underestimate the power of body language! With experts claiming that over 50% of communication is non-verbal, upgrading from messaging to video chats is really a no-brainer to keep the understanding between workmates strong. And we all know how helpful a daily morning check-in can be in keeping us on track for the day. So why not make 9am Zoom meetings a thing? 

3. Set expectations

Popping to a colleagues office to confirm who’s working on what part of a project is made a little more difficult when working remotely. That makes communicating each person’s role and intentions vital, especially if these responsibilities are subject to change. This could mean spending the first 5 mins of your morning Zoom meeting reviewing tasks and intentions for the day, or confirming who’s responsible for communicating changes to the way you work to clients. It may also mean delegating yourself or your HR person new responsibilities, such as a weekly personal check in with the team or a biweekly (virtual) social event. Redefining job roles before going remote is one way to help the transition go smoothly.

4. Let’s get visual… visual

Remember that point last lockdown where your eyes went fuzzy and one word began blending into another on your computer screen? No fun. Reminder: computers can do more than just word processing! These days there are a bunch of digital tools out there that can help make working from home more engaging. Online whiteboards, mapping and brainstorming tools such as Miro, Padlet, Coggle and Mindomo are just some of the ways you can keep your team on task. Presenting ideas visually is a welcome change from the norm and often a more effective way to relay information than simply dumping words onto a page.

5. Remember to check in

When real, in-person conversations suddenly become dings and little red notifications on a screen, it can become frighteningly easy to forget that your teammates are people too. Mimicking the ‘water-cooler’ conversation or the small talk that happens in the coffee room every morning is essential in keeping everyone that little bit more sane with the lack of human contact. Tools like Slack can be very useful for maintaining the casual banter and meme-sharing that glues a team together. But a true check in can go a long way too. A simple “how are you” or “how was your weekend” can help build the connection that makes for a successful and healthy working environment. “Talanoa”, which is the idea of ‘talking about nothing, in order to talk about something’, is a vital part of keeping your team united in overcoming geographical challenges.

It’s no secret that lockdown didn’t have the same impact on every business in New Zealand. The ones that made it through in relatively good nick were those armed with the ability to communicate and collaborate digitally with ease. And after a stellar sun-filled summer, it’s easy to forget that the world of business in 2021 is almost ominously uncertain. 

My best advice? Adopt new ways of doing things now, so that you can glide on by potential incoming business-altering changes, and whatever else this year throws at us, with little to no disruption. Learn the tools and techniques needed to work remotely in this blessed time of stability and normality, before the world of business morphs into something again unrecognisable and things go belly up. 

Our Digital Skills for the Workplace micro-credential is here to help you bring your business online. Us digital experts here at The Mind Lab are backing Kiwis looking to improve their digital competence, and protect their business’ future. Reach out today to join the revolution.

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