The global pandemic only hastened what was already an emerging trend—more companies allowing their employees to work from home. Only sales and marketing people used to be allowed to do their work wherever and whenever they wanted. Other teams and departments had to stay within plain sight of their supervisors; otherwise, they won’t be considered doing paid work for the company.
But, with the ubiquity of email, chat, online platforms, and other remote work collaboration tools, more and more companies are realizing that almost everything can be done remotely. And, with smartphones, workers can now work mobile, thanks to some apps that, for instance, offer a work number to your mobile phone, just like what Open Phone provides.
Remote Work Tools That Improve Team Collaboration
Work Assignment Platform
The first work tool that you need in order to improve remote team collaboration is a work assignment platform. Basically, this is your common platform where your employees and teams can monitor which tasks were farmed out and assigned to them. They should be able to access the list of tasks assigned to them, with all the details they need to monitor and do their tasks effectively. It doesn’t have to be a CRM, although this is what remote teams of insurance companies use.
All employees should have access to this common platform so they’d have a common reference about the specific tasks assigned to each member and each team. But, you can change the levels of access that each employee or each team is given based on their needs. They should have all the functionalities and access they need to complete and monitor their tasks, as well as submit their final outputs.
File Sharing Platforms
Another tool that remote work teams can use to enhance their collaboration is a file sharing platform. Different industries may have to perform different tasks, but one thing common to all of them is that they’ll be handling company files. These files can be documents, spreadsheets, presentations, portable documents, videos, and audio recordings, among many others.
If multiple employees and teams have to work on the same files, then one of the things they’ll need is a file sharing platform. The type of file sharing platform that you choose for your remote work team should be able to permit access to every employee who needs access to specific files.
At the same time, the platform should save a common copy of the file, such that updates or changes made would be reflected on only one file—the common file. This would prevent anyone from making changes, which won’t be in the copy handled by other employees working on the same file.
Team Messaging Tools
Remote work teams need to have constant communication, allowing them to interact with each and everyone with whom they need to speak, without needlessly disrupting or interrupting the work of other team members who aren’t needed for the specific conversation.
Sometimes, some members of your team would need to talk online. There are just some things that can’t be said over emails or can’t be discussed through chat without causing confusion.
One example of an issue or topic that can’t be discussed in an email is when two or more employees have to compare the contents of multiple documents, videos, or presentations. If their inputs are needed, this kind of task can’t be done effectively through emails alone. When a team decision has to be made over a work task, they should do video conferencing.
An example of a topic or task that can’t be discussed through a group chat is when the inputs of multiple employees or teams are required on a certain topic, file, document, or presentation. If they just exchange their views through chat, misunderstandings may arise, especially when participants don’t properly reference which messages they’re responding to with their own messages.
There are also times when team leaders or supervisors have to speak one-on-one with individual employees or team members. If you’re using paid team conferencing apps, several teams might be requesting to use them at any given time. They should be given priority in the use of team conferencing apps over a one-on-one meeting. In these instances, however, you’d still need to have another tool or a separate app for team leaders to speak with employees individually.
Another tool needed to improve remote work collaboration is cloud storage. The cloud storage isn’t the same as the file sharing platform.
The file sharing platform is where the files being worked on by individual employees and teams can be accessed and worked on real time. But, you still need a database or storage for where you can save all the final copies of files, as well as the important drafts, research outputs, presentations that have already been delivered, reports that have been submitted, and memos that have been circulated.
In a non-remote work setup, the file sharing platform is equivalent to the actual files being moved from one worker to the next one, who needs to work, edit, or update the files. The cloud storage would be the steel file cabinets that you see around. Inside them are the files that are no longer being worked on.
Daily To-Do List
Your employees and teams are always busy monitoring what needs to be done and completing their assignments. But they, also need a regular reminder of the tasks that need to be done for the day.
There are apps and platforms that provide a common venue for employees and teams to look at the list of things that have to be done for the day. If you’ll go for email, you’ll have to send each one of them an update every time a task has been ticked off. What you really need is a common platform that can be viewed by everyone and updated by the persons in charge.
In The Same Room
There are numerous work collaboration tools in the market that can significantly improve remote collaboration. Some of them are proprietary, but there are those that are for open use. You’ll have to find work collaboration tools that will bridge the distance between your workers, and make them feel like they can still tap the other guy and ask quick questions, or do quick meetings and huddles, like they’re still in the same room.
Jason is the Marketing Manager at a local advertising company in Australia. He moved to Australia 10 years back for his passion for advertising. Jason recently joined BFA as a volunteer writer and contributes by sharing his valuable experience and knowledge.