Tech Tip: Remote Collaboration Depends on Good Conferencing Practices

COVID-19 may have foiled the big plans you had for 2020, but it has presented a different set of opportunities. Many businesses had deliberately avoided providing remote work opportunities for their employees, mostly out of the fear that their teams would become inefficient and less productive and that it would present management and security challenges. Now, after a few months with little choice but to suddenly embrace it, the major challenges are actually delivering the resources your newly remote workforce needs to produce results in line with expectations.

One important solution that has emerged during the duration of the pandemic — one that most businesses already had access to but didn’t have to use in the manner they do now — is video conferencing. With health concerns surrounding a full-time return to the office, video conferencing gives your remote staff the opportunity to work directly with contemporaries and clients to drive business initiatives forward. In fact, in many cases major projects that couldn’t be delayed any further are now being administered over the internet.

Collaborators have discovered that many of these platforms have responded with feature-rich offerings that integrate with operations and project management software.

Project Coordination Without Leaving Your Home

For a while, most small business owners’ only goal was to get the capital they needed to keep their business running. It was important that the core revenue streams were maintained. With workers finding themselves working remotely for the first time, it was essential that they were able to stay involved in a manner that would allow them to produce. Much of the time, this means collaboration. Let’s look at some strategies businesses are using to maintain their collaboration using video conferencing.

Collaboration Strategies

Most businesses rely on a coordinated effort. Some rely on side-by-side cooperation. This typically means meetings. Workers are now utilizing video conferencing to eliminate a lot of wasted time created by in-person meetings. This is all well and good as long as the video meetings are used productively. Here are three suggestions to make this a reality.

  • Don’t be brief just to save time. Video meetings, like meetings in a conference room, aren’t very interesting to people if they aren’t included. As a result, most people will try to duck out of meetings early. You’ll want to keep your meetings short, but don’t fly through an agenda just to be brief. A big part of coordinating a team effort is making sure everyone knows their roles and how it fits into the whole.
  • Don’t send too many messages. Remote workers — especially ones that work as a part of a team — get a lot of messages. Getting redundant messages on multiple different mediums can be downright frustrating. Try to keep your messages targeted and in one medium.
  • Don’t just use the video conference for work. When people work side-by-side in an office and collaborate on projects, being in different places can alienate people. Have optional team-building exercises over video conferencing. It will also give them the idea that it’s a valuable tool, not just an interruption.

Keeping your business on solid footing is going to take both an acceptance that you will have to rely on new tools and strategies and having the right technology in place. Speak with your IT provider or outside experts about getting the tools your remote team needs to stay productive and secure.

Alan Edwards, CISM, is chief information officer at Computerware, Inc., in Vienna, Virginia.


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