With our increased reliance on technology and a distributed workforce, today’s employees are challenged when it comes to remote team collaboration. As someone who almost exclusively relies on web conferencing to collaborate with my team, I have experienced many of the struggles firsthand. Here are some of the key ways to create a productive and positive remote worker experience:
Start with great audio
It can be very difficult to hear those speaking in a meeting room unless they are sitting directly in front of the speakerphone. Some people naturally mumble, while others become muffled depending on where they are located in the room. This is one of the biggest problems I’ve faced with remote team collaboration. The best audio I have experienced is when using a Skype-enabled meeting room with built-in ceiling microphones. Investing in a solution like this can dramatically improve productivity and innovation for distributed teams.
Leverage intelligent video
As a presenter, it can be difficult to assess how my content is being received when I cannot see the faces of the audience. Using video really helps me feel connected to the group, share smiles as we welcome each other to the meeting, and respond to subtle nonverbal cues like someone furrowing their brow or nodding in agreement. The best video experience I have had was using a clever new product called Meeting Owl in combination with the Microsoft Surface Hub. The Meeting Owl’s 360° lens shows the remote participant a view of the entire room and automatically focuses on the most recent speakers.
Make content sharing easy
Content sharing is so critical to collaboration and innovation. The best meetings I have in a week are ones where we share our desktop views and iterate together in real time. Some web conferencing platforms require a meeting “leader” that drives the content unless otherwise specified, but with Skype for Business, you can share fluidly back and forth.
Digital content isn’t the only medium to consider, however. High performing meeting rooms often feature expansive whiteboards, which are fantastic for brainstorming and idea generation. Too often, when someone gets up to the whiteboard, they disappear from the camera’s view, leaving the remote participant feeling irrelevant to the conversation. A great solution for this is a digital interactive whiteboard like Microsoft Surface Hub, where drawing on the whiteboard becomes visible to everyone, local and remote. With equal access to the visuals in real time, everyone is empowered to chime in.
Stay connected informally
Video meetings can be a great way to reestablish social connections. Remote workers often miss out on the buzz and chatter that brings an office to life, and can feel disconnected as a result. Use videoconferencing on the fly to check in with team members – talk about your weekend, share your funny commute story, find out what is going on in their world. When you leverage video for more than just formal meetings, you can improve the culture of your team and help everyone feel more connected on a personal and social level.
By considering these four strategies, you can improve remote team collaboration for your organization and strengthen the connections between your employees!
Photo credit: Meeting Owl by Owl Labs