Top 5 Virtual Collaboration Challenges for Professionals and Businesses
The workplace has drastically changed over the course of 2020, and it seems that this year won’t be any less of a challenge. Any company that has been able to adapt to the new restrictions and the ever-changing social distancing rules due to the pandemic has done so, but these sudden changes in operation have also changed how companies collaborate. Turning to remote collaboration has become the norm rather than the exception, and it might suit some companies well, while others are still trying to make it work for their staff.
Virtual collaboration, both with in-house teams and external professionals is riddled with potential setbacks. Employees feel less motivated when they’re suddenly forced to work from home and they genuinely enjoy the office-based dynamics. People have to deal with all kinds of distractions when they attend virtual meetings – a single toddler running around the room can cause quite a bit of chaos. CEOs don’t have nearly as much visibility over their teams while working remotely.
Some companies have turned to a host of useful and effective digital tools, updated strategies, and employee-centric collaboration methods to save the day. Here are a few common issues and their matching solutions to help you get your own business back on track by optimizing your virtual collaboration.
Dealing with Distractions
There’s only so much you can do when it comes to implementing smart, tech-based solutions for your business. One particular issue on the rise for virtual teams is distraction, and since it often stems from our overuse of social media and lack of focus, it can be difficult to handle.
However, it’s important to first analyze what kind of distractions your teams are dealing with. Many have kids at home, others have noisy neighbors, and some might be swamped with requests from their colleagues.
Determining the cause will help you find the solution! For starters, noise-canceling headphones are a brilliant, yet simple investment that can help people stay focused while working remotely. Flexible work hours to accommodate parents is another great way to help them focus on kids outside of kindergarten hours. Talk to your employees, and you’ll come up with tailor-made solutions to eliminate or reduce distractions for the long haul.
Chaos in the Hiring Process
Switching to virtual communication has caused several issues for both sides of the hiring process. Candidates struggle to present themselves in the best possible light, an unstable internet connection alone can wreak havoc on an interview, and it’s impossible for them to determine if a business has the right culture from remote interactions alone.
On the other end of this process, HR managers have a hard time not only picking out the best candidates for optimal culture fit, but also for the best possible qualifications. It’s challenging to hire and boost retention in the middle of a health crisis.
For candidates, one of the most effective ways to leave a powerful impression in a digitally dominant world is to write a compelling resume when they apply for their dream position. HR teams, on the other hand, can leverage a number of hiring software tools to simplify the selection process and filter out the best candidates without wasting time.
Diminishing Engagement and Transparency
Virtual collaboration often leads to problems in communication among employees and management. Without the right tools to track the progress of projects, see the participation of each employee, and recognize people who are overworked or not included enough, it’s hard to keep the organization transparent. What’s more, employees often feel disengaged in such an environment.
To reduce the stress of remote work and improve time management, businesses now utilize software that focuses on employee engagement, and not just project management and rostering. Automation helps take some of the workload off your employees’ shoulders, while clearly visible meeting schedules and tasks encourage accountability and open communication.
Access to real-time chat tools also makes teams feel like they can ask for help when they need it most, and seeing the business-wide roster lets them find the best person to reach out to in such situations – as opposed to calling the one person who is in meetings all day long and unable to pick up the phone.
Unproductive Virtual Meetings
Let’s be honest here: any meeting has the potential to be useless and unproductive. How many meetings have you attended in your career, knowing that they’ll be just another waste of time, or a rant from the boss? Remote meetings require even more discipline and dedication, which is why you need good virtual conference tools and a strong agenda for every call.
- Set up clear talking points for yourself – you can even send a copy of the agenda to your employees. Maybe they can ask for a few minutes to jump in on the call and contribute, too.
- Determine the purpose of the meeting, be it to assign tasks, evaluate the work from the previous week, or get creative ideas for a new project.
- Set a time limit, always! Meetings that run too long can wreck your employees’ productivity and focus.
To be a better leader for your employees, you should be able to improve how you run meetings over time. Make sure they feel recognized, heard, and valued in every virtual meeting, and encourage feedback at every turn.
Cultural Changes That Affect Collaboration
Sharing a space with your employees or colleagues means at the very least one thing: you have many opportunities to connect and bond. From water cooler chit-chat, lunch breaks, to spontaneous brainstorming sessions, people thrive when they can understand the mindset and the mood of their colleagues.
Displace them from this environment they’ve built together and you have professionals who aren’t quite so sure when the right moment is to ask the sales team for advice or when the graphic designer has those five minutes to spare for sharing ideas.
Creating a culture in any business takes time and shared contributions from all people under your wing. It’s difficult to achieve that in person let alone remotely! Set up a team meeting to reiterate your brand’s mission and purpose. Talk about your goals in clear, concise, and relatable terms. Have your employees take part in the structuring of those goals – it will help them feel like a valued part of a whole.
Although no two businesses are essentially the same, some issues you may come across are extraordinarily common across many industries. Ever since more companies have switched to virtual work, individuals and teams have been struggling. It’s a learning experience, so we can make the most of it by picking up the most effective solutions brands have put to use in the past several months and see how our professional environments are changing for the better.
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Maria Gold is a Content Manager/Writer for Empire Resume. She is dedicated to helping educate and motivate people with the latest career articles and job search advice. Her interests range from writing to programming and design. She is also passionate about innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.