Employees have to work in a tranquil and comfortable space to be innovative and creative. The office setup needs to encourage the free flow of knowledge and information between employees. Those two factors combined enhance workplace collaboration and employee productivity.
Working from home is the other fundamental change that modern employers have to deal with. Current top talents are looking for companies that not only allow remote working, but that also encourages and facilitates it.
It is primarily because remote working is firmly proven to lower stress levels and enhance better work-life balance within today's working population. Companies also benefit from remote working by getting more production while incurring fewer expenses.
Now, this is where the rubber meets the road: Employers have to encourage remote working and, at the same time, facilitate cross-functionality.
How is that manageable? How can employers ensure that employees don't feel alone or disconnected when working remotely?
Here are four tips to help you increase cross-collaboration across remote teams and departments.
1. Foster a culture of shared knowledge
Share knowledge amongst your teammates for the cross-functional project's success.
Encourage them to seek guidance and advice from you and other senior managers at the company and consult high-authority sources for statistics and expert studies in the industry.
It means ensuring that you hire top-quality experts for your remote teams, being available whenever they need you, and helping employees build, strengthen, and tap into their professional networks.
2. Equip your team with the right collaboration technology
For starters, remote workers need computers, stable internet connections, and working smartphones to be significant at a personal level.
Even if you don't have the budget to equip each one of them with the said technology, you have to ask them to acquire it for themselves. Poor Wi-Fi won't make the cut, no matter how dedicated an employee is.
At the team level, cross-collaboration will be more effective if you invest in the following tools, some of which are free.
- Dropbox for secure storage and sharing amongst team members.
- RAR extractor for Mac, a tool that employees will need when opening RAR files on Mac.
- Zoom, a platform that enables your remote team to have conference calls.
- Funretro, a tool that will facilitate retrospectives within the team.
- Xtensio in case the team members need to create top-shelf documents and presentations.
3. Centralize your communications
Remote teams are very dynamic. Team members could be working from different countries and time zones, which means that there needs to be a centralized point where everyone can access the team's knowledge.
You can use project management apps such as Asana, Trello, and Teamwork as your central access point. Such apps will also help you keep track of what every team member is up to, so underperforming workers do not blindside you.
Project management apps enable you to measure team engagement and ensure that everyone is connected and sharing real-time updates.
4. Formulate clear task-handling guidelines
Clear guidelines on who handles which tasks, who answers to whom, and what needs to be done when will go a long way in enhancing cross-collaboration in your virtual team.
Let every team member know which skill sets made you choose them for the team, and which talents they can bring on-board to make the team stronger.
While at it, let every team member know the strengths of other members to know who to talk to whenever they need particular skill sets.
Let everyone know which tasks they need to focus on to avoid overlapping of functions and responsibilities. Notify employees on the priority and deadline of each job so that everyone can be responsible for their time management.
Lastly, train members to update tasks with the latest progress so that other team members can keep track of what their colleagues are working on.
The coronavirus pandemic has boosted the trend for remote working. Even companies that were reluctant to adapt to flexible working, ignoring expert predictions that 2019 and 2020 would be transitional years for the global job market, have been forced to rethink their strategies by the deadly pandemic.
The narrative has changed from why you need remote workers to how you can make remote working work for your company. The 4 points above will get you started.