August 2, 2016
“But my team works virtually, how can we work this way when we’re spread out all over the country? How does this translate when we’re working online?”
What’s different about online collaboration?
Four Key Elements for Effective Online Collaboration
Don’t fret! Effective and collaborative online meetings are entirely possible. I take part in multiple productive virtual meetings every week.
The most effective online meetings have the same ingredients:
1. Good structure
2. Collaboration fundamentals
3. Proper tools
4. Supplemental in-person connections
1. Create Structure
Dedicate the majority of your agenda to collaborative activities
Jointly establish next steps and ownership
2. Leverage Fundamental Collaboration Principles
Match the activity to the group size
Groups of three have a different dynamic than groups of eight, which makes them better for different types of work.
Larger groups are great for ideation or broad exploration. Smaller groups are good at refining or developing specific pieces of work.
Consider when the entire team needs to get together, versus a subset of the team. Invite participants based on skill sets needed and meeting objectives to keep sessions productive.
3. Equip Yourself With Great Tools
Dependable, high resolution video communication platform
4. Supplement Online with In-Person Sessions
Develop local cohorts
Plan in-person sessions at key junctures
In-person working sessions can be a huge boost to productivity. Both to push work forward as well as from a team building and relationship standpoint.
Certain phases and types of work are easier in person. At points of “convergence,” or heavy synthesis and decision making it’s more effective to work in person. The ability to see, manipulate material and spend less energy coordinating communication allows you to really get into the work and move quickly.
For example, after a period of research and exploration, gathering together as a team for two days will save you weeks of time. And lead you to better output!
Working in person frees up capacity to process new data, surface insights, prioritize and clarify problem framing and direction.
Project kickoffs are another great time to prioritize face-to-face work. Spending a few days in-person to explore and structure the problem space, develop milestones and initial work streams positions everyone in the same direction.
Spending time together physically also creates space for personal connections and new insights. You feel more connected after spending a few days with someone. It creates a foundation that carries forward and makes us more understanding and flexible in our remote collaboration.