Undoubtedly you’ve realized the management move toward encouraging unity and collaboration among employees in modern offices. Teamwork can make use of every worker’s strengths, increasing creativity, productivity, and morale while providing a wealth of other benefits. Yet, as myriad business processes become adapted to computers, it seems that teamwork is going digital, too.
Virtual collaboration allows for team members to connect and communicate through technology. There are dozens of types of virtual collaboration to facilitate uncountable types of projects. For example, for ideas that need instant feedback, you might employ synchronous collaboration through instant messaging or video/audio conferencing, but for long-term projects that lack urgency, asynchronous or computer-mediated communication like email, discussion boards, and shared databases might function fine.
While startups and traditional businesses alike are establishing foundations in the virtual world, you might benefit from learning how your teams can improve through virtual collaboration.
Advantages of Virtual Collaboration
Most studies find that women thrive in a collaborative environment, but there are a handful of other features female job-seekers look for in prospective employers. Equality, flexibility, and security are all of the utmost importance to women in the workplace ― and they just so happen to be among the best advantages of virtual collaboration. Thus, by introducing virtual environments, you might better engage your female workforce.
1. More flexibility. Virtual workers use computers to connect with their co-workers, which means as long as they can log into the collaboration space, they can accomplish their tasks. No longer is there a need for centralized office space or a strict nine-to-five schedule with virtual collaboration.
2. More scalability. As your business grows, you acquire more workers and require more space. Virtual environments can expand almost effortlessly; comparatively, you can outgrow office spaces in a matter of months, and moving is expensive.
3. More affordable. Speaking of costs, using virtual collaboration spaces tends to be more affordable than renting physical office space. For example, you can learn about what Cisco Spark is and how integrating it and other collaboration tools can reduce the need to move offices every time your workforce outgrows the current space.
4. More comfortable. Many workers feel more secure using virtual spaces than they do working side-by-side with other people. Your employees can dress casually, lounge on couches or beds, listen to music, and have complete control over their physical workspace while the virtual collaboration space remains universally professional.
Admittedly, there are a handful of weaknesses associated with virtual working environments. Many virtual teams feel less connected with one another, which results in slow, disjointed work. However, as businesses make the transition, most find more positives than negatives. Plus, most of the disadvantages of virtual spaces can be remedied by properly preparing your team for their step into the virtual world.
How To Do Virtual Collaboration Correctly
Unfortunately, these advantages are not guaranteed. Every digital environment is only beneficial when your workforce is properly trained to use it, and the same is true of virtual collaboration systems. As any good manager knows, working together and collaborating are not one in the same; thus, you must ensure your team understands the smart ways to act as a team before you can transition to a virtual space. Then, you can establish rules for effective and efficient virtual collaboration, such as:
1. Limited size. There is a current trend of building larger teams, but the more workers you have, the more difficult it is to organize and accomplish tasks. By building tiers of responsibilities ― a core of decisive strategists, operational workers who focus on the day-to-day, and an outer network with temporary input ― and limiting the entire group to a certain number, virtual environments are easier to navigate and more effective tools for success.
2. Developed trust. When your employees share the same physical space, they slowly learn to trust (or mistrust) one another. However, virtual environments often throw strangers together on a single project, making teammates feel awkward and hesitant. Introducing virtual workers in-person, adding pictures and short descriptions next to usernames, or encouraging post-session small talk will help the team function more fluidly.
3. Established sensitivity. Because virtual collaboration can occur anywhere, most virtual teams comprise workers of a variety of cultures. Cultural differences can create strife in a number of ways, so you should equip your team with tools to overcome cultural obstacles. Translation tools, diversity education, and more can help employees overcome biases or other obstacles preventing cross-cultural collaboration.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that women gravitate toward virtual collaboration spaces. Online work environments provide many of the benefits women most want in their jobs while eliminating many of the detriments of the modern office. Though the transition to virtual collaboration may seem taxing, you and your workers will find success through virtual collaboration options.