The Ultimate Guide to Remote Collaboration

Remote collaboration has now become standard in many industries. There are a variety of reasons to connect teams remotely, including both distance and schedule. In this complete Guide we will explore everything you need to know about working and managing collaborations remotely.
by Billy Stone » Remote Work Nerd » 
last updated on November 13th
Technology has changed the way we work and live in so many ways. One of those changes is remote collaboration, which has now become standard for several industries. If you think about going remote or already have to manage remote collaborations, this article is for you!

Globalization has created a need for remote collaboration. Global companies are commonplace, multinational corporations have become the norm in today’s world.

Offices can be found across at least two continents or even on opposite sides of town. Also, national organizations often have multiple branches located around different regions within the same country- all working together. But it's not always pure harmony.

Working with a team from around the world can be tough. Luckily, we have tips on how to make it work.

What Is Remote Collaboration?

Remote collaboration is the act of working together with remote employees or members on a project without being in the same physical location as them. Teams can be split up across different countries – sometimes even continents – and it’s not unusual for companies to have remote workers located all over the world.

Team collaboration over the internet

This can lead to serious issues with communication, especially if remote members are not actively collaborating. And as you know, communication is key to working remotely.

In today's fast-paced world where everyone seems stressed out from their daily lives (no matter if they're rich celebrities with assistants), more people than ever before rely heavily upon technology such as Skype Meetings and Google Docs among others.

But with all those factors and tools, is it possible to achieve a good culture?

From our experience "Absolutely!".

We strongly believe this kind of collaboration is possible and it can be a benefit to both remote workers as well as their employers.

As we mentioned, communication is key when collaborating remotely – you’ll need tools that allow remote members to connect quickly and easily throughout the day- every day.

What's the difference between managing a remote team vs. an onsite team?

The first and most important factor is remote members need to be connected at all times. There's no such thing as "out of sight, out of mind" in remote teams – if you’re not collaborating with remote workers throughout the day, you will lose valuable time and may even miss deadlines due to a lack of communication within your team.

Remote employees may even feel isolated or disconnected from the team if they aren’t able to communicate with their remote colleagues, which can lead to a decline in productivity.

With remote collaboration tools, remote workers are always connected and on top of projects- no matter where they are located.

On the other hand, remote employees are usually pretty self-sufficient. They have their routines, are more efficient because they don’t spend time traveling to work or sitting in traffic, and often produce higher quality results than an onsite team would be capable of doing.

With all these benefits it's no wonder why remote work has become standard for many industries today.

Laptop with team video chat software

What Are the Main Factors of Remote Collaboration?

One of the main factors is virtual teamwork. Working with remote team members allows you to send messages, share documents and keep in touch as if they were standing next to you- even though they're not.

As a result, remote workers can be more productive due to fewer distractions.

But there are many not-so-obvious factors to take into consideration before you decide if remote work is right for your organization. The following list outlines some main points that will help determine how well it can be achieved in your company.

Time Zone Difference

Okay, this one's a bit more obvious. But the factor of having people in different time zones is a challenge for almost every remote team.

If you have remote workers spread out across the world, then it's important to ensure that there are times when everyone is available during working hours – regardless of what time zone they're in.

It's often easier for remote workers to have set work hours, which is why we recommend starting and ending each workday at the same time – regardless of what part of the world they’re in.

The best way to do this is by using project management tools that include chat options, screen-sharing tools, and remote presentation capabilities.

IT security, equipment, and material

This is also a point that's highly important when considering remote collaboration.

It is essential that remote workers have access to the right technology and equipment needed in order to do their work properly - this includes a computer with updated anti-virus software, encrypted remote storage for files, reliable internet connection, and more.

We also recommend having a backup plan so if something goes wrong, remote workers can still do their job. For example, having remote workstations at home or using cloud services for storage and file sharing are both great options to keep remote teams connected in case of an emergency.

Video app Icon

The type of people you have to deal with

The greater the team, the more personality clashes you're likely to have. And remote workers are more difficult to manage than onsite employees. So conflict resolution is a skill you'll need to work well within your organization.

For example, if someone's personality is too dominant or assertive, this may cause other team members with different personalities and styles of working (e.g. quiet and introverted) to feel uncomfortable, insecure, or reticent about sharing their opinions with an approaching deadline; which leads us to the next point...

Different people also will handle their projects in a variety of ways, and they all need to be treated differently. For example:

Some employees who work remotely like more frequent feedback than those working onsite; some remote team members want to be given more freedom over the projects they work on rather than being micromanaged; some remote workers prefer to have their schedule while others need regular check-ins.

Work tools

Think about which tools are necessary to make remote collaboration effective for your remote team. For example, if you need to be able to meet with clients face-to-face frequently then it would be best to have remote workers located nearby so they can attend meetings in person when needed.

Do they need a certain software? Is there anything else you can provide them with that might make their job easier or more efficient?

Some examples of work tools include:

  • video conferencing
  • document collaboration and sharing
  • project management systems
  • time tracking apps
  • the list goes

Work environment

This is not directly influenced by you, but it influences the productivity of your remote workers. Make sure remote workers have a comfy and well-decorated work environment that they can enjoy being in.

The workplace is much more important than it seems at first glance – especially if you're looking to keep your team members focused on their projects and committed to the company culture.

So how can you help them make their work environment more remote-friendly?

Consider providing remote workers with things that make their lives easier when working at home. This way, your remote team members will feel more focused on their tasks and motivated to complete them successfully. A good example would be a chair or table that they can feel comfortable with.

The kind of work that needs to be done

All of your remote workers should be given clear instructions on what they need to do, and how it's done. They should ensure that there are no issues with communication between employees in different locations by making sure everyone knows about any critical deadlines or information relevant for their job functions; this can help prevent mistakes before they happen!

Schedule and planning

This one's huge! Having remote workers means no more weekly team meetings unless you have a time that everyone can meet online.

Schedule and planning team meetings

Creating an organized schedule is key in remote collaboration – each project should be planned out and assigned with specific deadlines. This will make it easier to plan future projects accordingly as well!

It's also important for remote teams to maintain a remote-friendly calendar, where events and deadlines are noted down so everyone can know what's going on at all times.

Some great calendar tools for remote teams are:

It's also important to keep remote workers in the loop and up-to-date with company events. Use a communication chat tool like Slack or Skype, where they can ask you questions whenever needed.

Defining and ensuring the quality of deliverables

Most people undervalue this factor. In remote collaboration, everyone must know who is responsible for what to deliver the best possible results.

For example: If you're working on a project collaboratively with remote freelancers, then all of them should be involved in every step of the process. This way they'll feel motivated and happy about their work since they know what's expected of them.

This will also ensure that the remote team is accountable for their work and that they'll deliver on time if there are no issues with communication or understanding what needs to be done.

Remote workers should receive regular updates about how well things are going in every project, so it's important to keep everyone up-to-date with changes, deadlines, and any issues that need to be addressed.

The remote team should also receive feedback on how well they're doing throughout the project (e.g., every week), so it's best if someone not directly involved in a given project can act as an intermediary between management and remote teams or freelancers. A business analyst would be a great choice for this since they can dedicate their time to remote workers.

How do you facilitate effective remote collaboration

Your remote team should also receive feedback on how well they're doing throughout the project (e.g., every week), so it's best if someone not directly involved in a given project can act as an intermediary between management and remote teams or freelancers.

To facilitate collaborations successfully, make sure team members are given clear instructions on what they need to do and how it's done. Also, an open-door policy should be implemented to ensure remote workers are comfortable asking questions whenever needed.

Any critical deadlines or information relevant for remote employees' job functions should also be known by both parties, which will prevent any mistakes from happening.

As you can see, there are certain ways to increase productivity and develop processes that will benefit both remote workers and the whole company! This allows remote employees to focus more on their work since they know what's expected from them for everyone to achieve success.

What Are the Pros and Cons?

There are several pros and cons, including:

Pros

  • remote workers can work from home or anywhere in the world without commuting issues.
  • This makes them more productive since they're able to focus on their work with fewer distractions while also reducing time spent traveling.
  • Plus remote employees usually have lower stress levels if they're not commuting to work every day, which will make them even more effective.
  • Some remote workers may also be freelancers who are self-employed or just beginning their career in this field of work, so remote is an ideal option for them because they get the chance to prove themselves and increase their skills without having to relocate.
  • Finally, it is cost-effective and helps startups or small businesses save money.

Cons

  • remote workers may become unproductive if you don't provide them with clear instructions on what they need to do when working collaboratively.
  • When remote employees feel like their work isn't valued, then it's likely their output might not be as effective as it could be.
  • Another con is that remote workers may also experience burnout if their work-life balance isn't taken into account, which can affect the entire company and lead to inefficiency both remotely and on-site.
  • There's also a higher chance of errors occurring when remote employees don't have access to needed tools or information for their remote collaboration tasks, which will lead to less success overall.
  • Lastly, remote workers may feel disconnected from the team due to a lack of communication, which will lead them to have lower morale and even result in remote employees potentially leaving.

Remote Tools

Several remote tools can be used to improve productivity and workflows both on the remote end and the office side:

  • Toggl - a time-tracking tool that provides remote employees with accurate data regarding how they're spending their time.
  • Slack - allows remote teams to communicate via instant messaging, group chats, and file sharing across different devices, all of which can be downloaded for free!
  • Google Docs (and Sheets) - provides remote workers with the ability to create documents or spreadsheets that everyone within their remote team has access to at all times
  • Jira - remote teams can collaborate on agile development through this tool, which also enables them to have a better understanding of the current project state.

Conclusion

Remote collaboration is now becoming standard in many industries because it helps remote workers improve their productivity and skills while increasing workflows for everyone involved! What remote employees need from remote bosses or managers are clear instructions on tasks and what's expected from them, as well as remote workers getting the chance to be more productive.

There are several pros and cons when it comes to tools; while also having a higher chance of errors occurring due to remote workers not having access to the needed resources for their remote collaboration tasks.

What is your experience? Please leave a comment below and let us know!