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How to Improve Team Collaboration in a Remote World

Achieve better workplace culture, heightened productivity, and improve results by fostering healthy and collaborative relationships with your teammates.

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According to Codegiant, “Out of 1400 people (executives, employees, and educators) surveyed, 86% said that failures in the workplace were due to poor team collaboration.”

Fostering effective team collaboration is important, especially in a remote environment. Working remotely, employees can feel lonely or secluded if there is no cross-collaboration happening. By creating a psychologically safe workplace, where nobody is punished for making mistakes or too afraid to speak up with ideas, will help improve team collaboration to limit failures in the workplace and achieve goals! 

Why is team collaboration important?

Fostering team collaboration in a remote workplace poses extra obstacles that managers must face. However, overcoming these obstacles and fostering collaboration is important for several reasons, including:

1. Fosters peer-to-peer learning

One benefit of remote work is that companies now have the opportunity to hire people outside of their local community, allowing them to expand their search and hire the best in the industry. This means that newer team members may join the team with an abundance of knowledge to share.

On the other hand, team collaboration will also allow newer team members to learn from more senior people who have experience working for the company. This is a great opportunity for mentorships to happen and for direct reports to become valued collaborators. Each team member brings their own set of skills and values to the team, and team collaboration will foster this peer-to-peer learning. 

“Peer-to-peer learning can be a powerful development tool that breaks through some common barriers to skill-building” - Kelly Palmer and David Blake, Harvard Business Review Contributors. 

2. Resolves problems quickly

Trying to solve every issue on your own is stressful and inefficient. When an issue arises (and it’s bound to happen!), having a team to help you solve the problem will make your life much easier. Not only can it help you solve the problem more quickly, but it will also help you gain multiple perspectives about how to solve the issue. 

Having a variety of ways to solve a problem is beneficial because it allows your team to weigh the pros and cons of each solution to determine which solution is best. It is also beneficial because it ensures that the problems are being communicated to the whole team, fostering collaboration. As a manager, it is important to know when external help is needed so that you are not taxing your team with extra work or seeking unnecessary consensus.    

3. Builds trust 

An organization’s trust depends on how well employees collaborate. According to The Economist, 33% of all employees say that better team collaboration makes them more loyal. Having coworkers collaborate regularly will provide team members with an opportunity to bond and build relationships, fostering trust and better collaboration down the road.

Additionally, a Harvard Business Review study found that “when 20% to 40% of the team members were already well connected to one another, the team had strong collaboration right from the start.” 

Thus, team collaboration fosters trust and creates relationships among team members, strengthening collaboration. This is especially important for remote work as it is more difficult for team members to connect and build trusting relationships. 

5 tips for more team collaboration

Now that we understand the importance of team collaboration, let’s learn HOW to foster team collaboration by following these 5 tips:

1. Implement icebreaker questions

Practicing icebreaker questions with your team is a great way for team members to bond and build relationships. Here is a list of possible icebreakers:

  1. Personal icebreakers 
  • What are your hobbies outside of work?
  • What does your perfect day off look like?
  • What do you like to do on the weekend?

  1. Music, books, and/or movie icebreakers
  • Who is your favourite artist?
  • What is your favourite book?
  • What is your favourite reality tv show? 

  1. Travel and adventure icebreaker
  • Where have you travelled to?
  • What is your dream vacation?
  • Do you prefer spontaneous or planned adventures?

  1. History-themed icebreakers
  • If you could meet any historical figure, who would you meet?
  • If you could live in another generation, which one would you choose?
  • If you had a time machine, would you travel to the past or future? What would you do there?

  1. Food and/or drink icebreakers
  • What is your least favourite restaurant?
  • What is your go-to snack?
  • Do you prefer ordering in or eating out?

  1. “This or that” icebreakers
  • Would you rather be able to fly or be invisible?
  • Would you rather be able to teleport or time travel?
  • Would you rather go to space or get to travel the world for free for a year?


2. Implement check-in meetings

Having a psychologically safe environment is key to having effective collaboration. Having a psychologically safe team means they can openly share their thoughts and ideas without fear of repercussions. Thus, it is important to get feedback from your team members to gauge how they perceive the culture. 

This can be achieved by scheduling regular one-on-one meetings and using meeting templates for recurring meetings that provide team members with a place to suggest ways to improve the work environment. As a leader, it’s beneficial to be vulnerable with your team on what you’d like to implement more of or the new ideas you want to try. 


3. Ask for feedback (and give feedback)

It is important to ask for feedback, both as a manager and an employee. For example, managers should ask for feedback on how their management style affects their employees (makes them more productive or less productive). Knowing what works and what doesn’t, managers can adapt their ways to foster productive team collaboration. 

As an employee, it is also important to ask for feedback from your managers and coworkers. This will ensure that you are always working to the best of your ability, utilizing your strengths, and acknowledging your weaknesses.

Team collaboration will be most productive when each team member is giving it their all. Therefore, giving and receiving feedback will only help your team and produce the best results. 


4. Set clear goals and realistic expectations

Setting unrealistic expectations will discourage team members. So, it is important to set clear and attainable goals for the team to collaborate on. Ways to encourage team members to reach their goals are to celebrate small wins that eventually produce the end goals. 

For example, if your team is collaborating on Project X, set and celebrate small milestones along the way such as hitting due dates for certain tasks or achieving a certain amount of revenue in shorter monthly goals rather than a bigger annual goal.  This will make the end goal feel more attainable and foster productive team collaboration.  


5. Encourage friendly competition between teams 

The final tip to fostering productive team collaboration is to encourage friendly competition between teams. According to Harvard Business Review, friendly competition between employees can motivate them to excel. If you see your teammates accomplishing their tasks and reaching their goals, it can work as a great motivator for you to hit those milestones as well!

Providing the competition is friendly, managers can reward teams that collaborate best and achieve their goals. For example, to encourage productive collaboration, Fellow’s marketing team rewards coworkers for collaboratively contributing X number of social copies for 4 consecutive weeks. 


Parting advice

Fostering healthy and collaborative relationships with your teammates makes for better work. Efficient team collaboration will also foster good communication, improving results, team development, and productivity. Having a collaborative work culture will result in positive results faster and is a great way to retain top talent and attract new members! 


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