The Challenges of Online Collaboration
- Communicating effectively with your virtual team in the absence of nonverbal and contextual cues we rely on to give us the whole story. Sure, Joe said he agreed with your decision via email, but you missed the eye roll, frown, and crossed arms indicating anger or frustration.
- Creating cooperative interaction among team members. It’s likely that many team members have never met or worked with each other before. Everyone is looking down the list of team members’ names thinking “Huh, I know Flavia in Brazil, I may have met Satvinder in Singapore once at that conference, don’t know Kamaria or Bob… wait a minute, we have an office in Malaysia?!”
- Difficulty in expressing opinions. This can be as simple as having trouble explaining your idea without benefit of a visual aid that everyone can see. Or, it can be as difficult as managing cultural norms. In either case, inability to express opinions and ideas leads to other troubles specifically resolving conflict and making decisions.
- Differences in time zones. How many of us have had to jump on a 9:00pm teleconference at home while your kids are screaming, dogs are barking, and your head is pounding because you know it’s going to be another late night?
- Language barriers. Sort of self-explanatory!
The Solutions for Seamless Online Collaboration
What’s a team to do? Here are a few tips offered up by the authors of a recent study and our team.
- Create online profiles of team members. Go beyond the CV and ask them to share any personal interests, hobbies, etc. Don’t force it – they should share only information they feel comfortable divulging.
- Establish rules for how the team will communicate, resolve conflict, and make decisions. Create an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing ideas and concerns.
- Carefully monitor when meetings are held to make sure no one team member is constantly working the graveyard shift. Similarly, make sure meetings are absolutely necessary, have a clear agenda with start and end times, and all team members help each other stay on track.
- During meetings, imagine your teammates are in the room with you. When sharing ideas, speak slowly and clearly. Ask someone to reflect back in their own words what you said. Listen actively without interrupting the speaker. Ask questions and offer a summary of what you think you heard for confirmation.
The Best Collaboration Tool Can Fix A Lot
Although the best collaboration software can improve communication levels to new heights, you still need to work through the people issues. Be sure to put all of your team resources in one place. Share tools, critical documents, notes, emails, files and calendars within your collaboration software to ease your team’s frustration. These simple steps will go a long way.
Collaboration software can’t do it all — but it can give your team a competitive advantage. Discover how Redbooth helps teams and companies to collaborate, communicate, and maximize productivity. Explore Redbooth’s features >>