Teleworking has become commonplace in many sectors due to the pandemic. As a result, it is now more important than ever to remain adaptable and rethink the way we communicate and cooperate remotely, not just with colleagues but with all of our contacts in our professional lives.
The relationship with work colleagues has changed for many of us in recent months. Sadly, chats at the coffee machine, team lunches and roundtable meetings have become a rare occurrence. Teleworking has become the norm for many of us today. Like many others, we have had to learn how to deal with this type of working, which was previously reserved for a small number of people. And to be perfectly honest, it isn’t always easy to manage remote relationships, cooperate effectively and remain motivated when faced with these changes. myLIFE has a few tips on how to cooperate effectively, through your computer screen.
Teleworking, it’s important to listen!
Teleworking means learning to communicate in a different way. Some key aspects of communication (including nonverbal communication) cannot be interpreted as easily during an online conversation. If you are unsure what the person you are talking to means, or how to interpret their words, don’t be afraid to ask. It’s easy to get stuck in a misunderstanding that could damage your confidence in each other and upset you. Listening to each other is crucial to efficient cooperation.
We may think that we have understood certain gestures and expressions, but even more so than with words, we should be careful about interpretation when we can only see part of the person we are talking to. So if the person you are talking to suddenly looks disapproving, try not to automatically take offence. You never know, it might just be one of their children doing something silly across the table, or their cat playing with the curtains. First and foremost, don’t assume the worst; ask questions if you are unclear.
Take the time to decide as a team which tool is best for each channel of communication, and then stick to it!
Remain flexible but structured
In the office, work time and breaks are generally clearly separated. This is not necessarily the case with teleworking, where there can be greater interference from your private life. To ensure better cooperation within teams, it’s important to arrange regular times where you can check in with everyone, as this fosters team spirit and lets everyone have a say on how they are getting on with their work. It encourages all employees to take responsibility with respect to their colleagues and to organise the workload together.
The right tools for the job
It may be useful to put some virtual communication rules in place that will ensure good working relationships and effective teamwork. Start by choosing to focus on the tools that best suit your needs and habits. Things can quickly get confusing when you are juggling client calls, internal and external meetings and informal discussions. If you’re overwhelmed by the variety of solutions, take the time to decide as a team which tool is best for each type of communication, and then stick to it! These tools are there to make life easier for you, so choose something practical that is easy to use, even for novices.
Some tools focus mainly on remote meetings and let you share screens with other participants, others offer additional features such as instant messaging, breakout groups, forward planning, project management schedules with task tracking, etc.
Videoconferencing is a winning solution
A videoconference works well for both team communication and external meetings. It’s almost identical to a physical conversation, allowing a personal connection that makes it easier to interpret the feelings of the participants. In less formal moments, it is the ideal tool for keeping in touch with and motivating team members.
But be aware that, unlike face-to-face meetings, videoconferences do need some structure if they are to remain efficient. It’s a good idea to prepare an agenda and share it with participants so that they can properly prepare for the meeting.
What is the key to successful cooperation? Sharing information!
When we are in the office surrounded by our colleagues, information is everywhere and circulates rapidly. When working remotely, file sharing platforms (including in-house solutions) can be just as efficient in transmitting this information (written documents, visuals, charts, audio or video material) in real time to the key people. If you are not already familiar with these platforms, they have numerous advantages. These collaborative tools let you keep in touch with colleagues on a permanent basis and optimise your cooperation, wherever you may be working. They also simplify teamwork by reducing the volume of emails, saving you time and effort. If you have a joint presentation to prepare for a meeting, these platforms enable employees to contribute to and provide feedback on a shared document that is easily accessible. This avoids the need for multiple versions and potential errors. With task tracking you also have a precise overview of ongoing projects and access to all related information (people, resources, deadlines, progress, etc.).
One challenge with this form of remote cooperation and information sharing is ensuring that your data and files are secure. There are solutions that allow you to choose who can work on the relevant documents by setting up access rights or protecting your files with a password.
Don’t restrict your contacts solely to the people involved in the projects you are working on. Take the time to find out how your peers are getting on and how they are coping.
We’re all in the same boat
Teamwork is essential, but a good relationship with your colleagues is also crucial. Don’t restrict your contacts solely to the people involved in the projects you are working on. Take the time to find out how your peers are getting on and how they are coping. If you’re stuck on your own teleworking, taking a break for a chat about your situation over instant messaging will boost your motivation. Don’t forget, you are not alone! Don’t let the physical distance between you and your colleagues become a psychological distance. Successful cooperation requires people to feel that they are part of a shared endeavour.
All for one and one for all!
Change may always be accompanied by a certain level of resistance. Everyone must come to terms with these changes and adapt in their own time. Some people need longer to step outside their comfort zone. For a team to function optimally despite the physical distance, the individual’s perspective also needs considering. The basic needs of each person must be taken into account, as this will boost their confidence and well-being and promote a shared team spirit. It is essential that manages ensure that every team member can thrive in a remote working environment.
Out of sight, but not out of mind
If the way you communicate and chat with your colleagues has changed, your contact with friends and family will definitely also have moved into the virtual sphere. Turn the new skills gained with the various tried and tested tools in a professional capacity to your personal advantage—use them to get in touch with your family or to help your children chat safely with their grandparents.
The right tools and regular contact based on mutual confidence are crucial to ensuring efficient cooperation in any remote environment, be that a company, an association or any other type of organisation. It is key for productivity, but also for team spirit.