Blog

1 May 2020

Collaboration in a Remote World

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We are living in different times and the new reality is that the current global crisis may not only continue for longer than we imagined but is likely to change how we work in the post-COVID-19 world.

One of the issues that businesses are now facing is how they can facilitate collaboration in a remote world. In this article, Iain Moffat, Chief Global Officer at MHR explores why collaboration is important and how business leaders can use technology and strategies to embed this into our new norm.   

Why collaborate?

The collaboration process brings a vast array of differing knowledge, experience, and intellect into one place to solve problems and develop solutions. 

So how do effective teams collaborate? In a multitude of ways but they always keep the following critical factors in mind:

  1. Collaboration should be non-hierarchical
  2. Common purpose needs to be created and agreed
  3. Establishing the right people to collaborate, and motivating them to work/contribute
  4. Ensuring space for goal focused, social and expressive activities to create the right environment
  5. Culture that supports transparency, openness and trust
  6. Ability to fostering creativity
  7. Common framework for communication to drive efficient collaboration
  8. Provide the tools to support all the above

The rewards of collaborative teams

For the individual there is the benefit of achieving your own personal goal and contributing to the wider business purpose.  For the wider business, collaborative working always brings about learning / increasing knowledge. The process builds relationships and bonds within the organisation through the groups' shared experiences. Over time that process builds organisational learning and resilience and breaks down silos. And lastly, there are those wonderful unintended results such as a spin-off idea for example, an unexpected opportunity, or even an entire new business strategy.

Collaboration in a remote world

In an entirely remote world, how would we form relationships, establish buy-in, and confirm shared goals? How would we execute collaborative working and continue to develop organisational performance, learning and resilience? You might say it’s easy. After all, we have a plethora of technology to facilitate this.

However, it is not as simple as that.

We thrive in an environment where we can maintain a strong identity, express ourselves socially, stay connected and share experiences. Which is often conveyed in a non-verbal way. That's why dealing with collaboration in a remote world needs to have a different approach. 

While tools exist to deal with the task/work-based aspects of collaborative groups, they often fall short in dealing with the social, cultural, expressive, motivational and experiential areas of work.

Maintaining motivation, identity, cohesion, and the sense of community are challenges under serviced by our current technology. In today’s world, that business pain is only just starting to emerge, and reminds us that we have probably under-serviced the needs of our remote workers in the past.

As many of us now experience remote working, some of us for the first time, we need to maintain effective collaboration.

We are a social species. We thrive on the interactions with our colleagues, family and friends.

To be effective, and to address the area of well-being, remote work needs to encompass the cultural, social, expressive, motivational, and yes, disruptive elements of colleague interaction.   We all need moments around the water cooler, even in a socially distant and remote world.

While the end goal of a collaborative group/team can keep that group together, it just isn't enough of a "pull". What reinforces the “pull” are the social, expressive, motivational nudges and engaging activities we have in the office.  Those aspects are the gravitational force that holds organisations together.

What we need

We need tools that support the sharing of ideas, project organisation and tracking, and virtual meetings. We need to be able to recognise a good deed and say thank you. While there are plenty of options, many of them borne from a consumer offer, out there right now for you to choose from, we also need solutions to:

  • Keep people connected in ways that encompass social, expressive and disruptive activities that replicate the physical work environment
  • Keep the company culture thriving and people belonging to their “group”
  • Maintain connectedness to our peers, managers and broader organisational community
  • Enable transparent and regular conversations to reinforce trust
  • Manage clear communication, motivation, nudges and feedback
  • Professional platform designed for business, so it maintains the critical security and pathways that are required within an organisation.

Put all these work, relationship, motivational solutions together and you have a sustainable platform for remote working and a healthy, motivated and collaborative workforce wherever they may be.

Iain Moffat

Chief Global Officer at MHR, Iain is passionate about assisting organisations to go digital while staying human.

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