Why is it Important to Collaborate While Working Remotely?
How do I stay efficient and collaborative while working apart from my team?
What tools and tactics can I use to coordinate with others working remotely?
Whether you run a business or work at one, in order to work remotely, you need to be able to communicate with the other people that make the business operate.
Even if you mostly work alone, there will no doubt be times when you’ll need the input of others, either to get assignments, make decisions, or give and receive feedback.
Fortunately, there are tactics, tools, and practices that can make working together while working remotely efficient, fluid, and easy.
First, stay in contact by scheduling regular check-ins with the people you work with, whether that’s your boss, your coworkers, or other people.
Check-ins let you stay aware of what others are doing, keep them informed of what you’re doing, and exchange feedback. Check-ins can also help colleagues keep a rapport that might otherwise go neglected from not sharing a workplace.
Even if you aren’t discussing a particular task or assignment, a check-in can let you see how much bandwidth others may or may not have for tasks you need from them, and can let others know how swamped or available you are, too.
It can help to talk face to face, so consider holding virtual meetings via video conferencing. If you use G Suite, Google’s email and business tool services, Google Meetings comes with your account and can host video calls for you.
Email can be an effective tool for making quick decisions and passing on information. For brainstorming, collaboration, or detailed discussion, you’re often better off scheduling a meeting.
Chat apps like Google Hangouts or Slack allow you to quickly ask questions of colleagues without clogging up inboxes. Say John’s mixing perfume and wants to know how many drops of ylang-ylang to use – a quick Google Hangouts message beats having to wait for an email reply.
Next, stay organized. It can help to keep files, documents, or anything else you’re working on in a platform that lets you collaborate with others.
There are many programs that let you do this, such as Google Docs and Google Drive, both of which come with G Suite. Sharing files in a “cloud” on these platforms means they won’t have to be downloaded and can simply be accessed via the online drive.
Programs like Google Docs and Drive let collaborators share, comment on, and edit documents, slideshows, and spreadsheets in real time. For instance, when editing a master list of perfume, John can tag Gabe in a comment or leave a note to himself.
If your line of work requires working together on the design, code, images, or something else, don’t worry – programs exist that will allow you to collaborate on pretty much every type of file that’s out there.
Sharing a calendar with your team can help yourself and others know when you’re free to meet when you’ll be working, and more.
For instance, by looking at their shared calendar John knows not to schedule meetings with Mike when he’ dropping his kids off at school, and Mike knows John won’t be answering emails while he’s taking his yoga class.
A shared calendar can also create more accountability, both to yourself and to your team. Your calendar is proof of how much time you’re spending on your work, as your team won’t be seeing you spending time in the office.
Finally, it can be helpful to track how much time you spend on each task you work on. If you notice you’re spending more or less time on a given task, you can gauge how long tasks might take in the future, and plan better, too.
If you’re a freelancer, tracking how long you spend on tasks can help you know how much to quote clients because it gives you a greater sense of how long each task takes to complete.
“I did it not for the money, but for the freedom!”- Richard Young
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