The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things about the way people communicate and collaborate. During the pandemic, many businesses chose to shift to work-from-home models to keep employees safe while continuing to offer many normal business services. That virtual format has become the norm for many businesses–and not everyone expects to go back to a traditional office environment as pandemic concerns wane. Maintaining good collaboration is key to the future of working.
54% of Americans note that they would like to continue working from home after the pandemic. Around 66% expect to continue with a hybrid model for some time to come–either permanently or on a long-term basis. Not only are many people worried about potential virus exposure if they return to a traditional in-person work environment, but they’ve also come to appreciate many of the benefits of working from home, including increased flexibility, greater productivity, and better work/life balance.
Communication and collaboration, as a result, have undergone an immense shift–and reimagining those vital aspects of project management and daily business tasks has become crucial for businesses as they consider how they want to move forward as pandemic concerns wane.
Digital Collaboration Becomes the Norm
During the pandemic, innovation–especially as it pertained to digital connection and collaboration–took off. Many businesses that had lagged in overall digital connectivity and technology were forced to come up with remote work solutions on the fly. Out of necessity, business owners learned how to manage their teams remotely, encourage digital connection despite physical separation, and provide their employees with the tools they needed to succeed.
Digital collaboration has already become the norm–and in the aftermath of the pandemic, those strategies are likely to continue. Almost 16 million people moved throughout 2020, despite the additional challenges of moving during a pandemic. The housing market has boomed in many areas, especially rural areas. Many people chose to leave big cities for rural areas–and they continued in their usual remote jobs as they made the move.
Businesses also adapted their hiring practices as a result of changing digital norms. For years, many industries have struggled with a talent shortage compared to the available positions they had open–especially in technology-oriented fields. To help widen their available fields, many businesses have chosen to hire permanent remote workers: people who can live wherever they like while working for the company. Those employees, even in a post-pandemic world, cannot be expected to report to the office regularly–nor should they be.
Digital collaboration is here to stay in a post-pandemic world. Now, business owners and management teams must adapt their methods to allow for digital collaboration and connection.
Real-time communication is still of critical importance for enhanced connectivity and collaboration across many industries. Employees need the opportunity to communicate directly as they work on their projects. Real-time communication helps build a relationship and enhance the sense of community within the workplace. Not only that, real-time communication helps ensure that employees are all on the same page and can easily keep up with the tasks and information in front of them.
Live Video Chats
Live video chats across platforms have become the norm throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. While managers must carefully moderate their meeting requirements to ensure that meetings are necessary and useful to employees, rather than filling their days with unnecessary time spent in front of a screen, having these regular check-ins and chats can make it easier for employees to connect and collaborate. Choosing the right platform, however, is critical for those chats. Ideally, you want your video chats to take place on the same platform that your employees use for other communication throughout the day. Your video chat option should offer:
- Breakout room solutions so that employees can work on individual projects
- Video recording options for easy replay of meetings or review of announcements
- Video and audio connection options so that employees can choose what they want to make visible, especially when working from home
- Large-scale options for whole-team meetings that need to be observed by everyone
Pronto offers easy video chat options that make it simple for employees to communicate with one another, including message translation options that can help employees around the world read messages in their preferred languages.
Direct Connection with Employees
Making employees feel connected and important is a critical part of success with a virtual model. You don’t want your employees to feel disconnected or unsure about their performance. Digital employees cannot simply “check in” with their direct boss by going by his office, nor will they receive the same daily feedback that they would in an in-person work environment. That means that remote managers must create those opportunities directly, usually through real-time meetings that provide ongoing feedback for employees.
Asynchronous Digital Collaboration
Collaboration in the digital age does not necessarily have to take place in real-time. While some things simply work out better when employees can connect directly with one another at the same time, including whole-team meetings that bring everyone on board simultaneously, much of the collaborative process can take place asynchronously. Using the right digital tools can make a huge difference in allowing for digital collaboration across your company environment.
In a digital environment, it takes considerably longer to gain access to information that only one employee has. If you’re waiting on a report from a specific team member, you may need to wait for that team member to log in, read a message, and send out an email with the vital document in it. File sharing options, however, can make it easy for any employee to access and make changes to a document at any time. Make sure you have a clear method for naming and storing files that makes it easy to see the latest version of a document as well as digital backup options that will ensure no vital data goes missing at just the wrong moment.
Digital task management offers some unique challenges–but it also provides unique solutions. You cannot observe how much time remote employees are spending at their desks, nor should you. Remote employees are adults who need to manage their own time, and employees who have to go through too much scrutiny or oversight may feel as though they are not valued members of the team. Digital task management solves many of those challenges.
Through the Pronto system, you can easily set up a virtual task list that makes it clear what tasks each member of the team is expected to complete, which you can set up on a project-by-project basis. The platform allows you to easily “check off” tasks as they are completed, send out reminders to yourself or other team members, and even attach photos and files directly to the list to make it easier to access needed information. As a result, you can easily keep track of what employees are accomplishing, including tracking progress toward goals, even from a remote environment–and without making your employees feel as though you are constantly looking over their shoulders.
Many people have utilized effective group chat solutions to full advantage during the pandemic, both for the workplace and private use. Chat options offer the freedom that video calls and all-hands meetings simply do not: they make employees aware of messages as they go out, but do not interrupt the daily flow of work. An effective chat program will allow employees to answer messages at their convenience when they finish their current project or task.
There are several ways you can use chat platforms effectively for your day.
Connect and collaborate with the Entire Team
Some messages need to go out to the entire team. A group chat can enhance collaboration and the overall feeling of working together as a team while allowing employees to participate at their leisure. The group chat is also a great way to issue reminders and invite feedback from the whole team at once.
Enhance Employee Interaction
Through the group chat, employees can interact on a personal level as well as a professional one. They can share jokes, chat, and get to know one another better. This simple strategy can make it easier for remote team members to feel more connected with one another, much the same way they would if they were chatting in the break room or around the office.
Create Break-Out Chats for Smaller Groups
In addition to the main chat that connects all the members of your team, you can break out smaller chats for individuals working on specific projects. These smaller chats can make it easy to collaborate both in real-time and asynchronously, depending on the specific needs of your team.
As digital collaboration becomes the norm across an increasing number of businesses, using the right tools becomes essential for enhancing productivity and community. Pronto can improve your business’s overall collaborative efforts and allow you to connect your employees more efficiently, all from one easy-to-use platform. Contact us today for a free demo.