Working from home can be challenging. The temptation of the comfy couch, the allure of daytime TV, and the overwhelming urge to not change out of your pajamas can be daunting. However, I'm not here to discuss these issues. More often, working from home or from a remote location may cause you to feel out of the loop from your colleagues. I've compiled 5 quick tips to make your remote collaboration sessions more effective.
- Utilize collaboration tools and communication techniques to be a more active remote participant.
Often times remote collaborators listen in on team meetings while the rest of their colleagues are sitting in a conference room. This can cause a whole slew of communication issues resigning the remote collaborator to be frustrated or, worse yet, tuning out the entire meeting. Luckily, there are plenty of tools available to you to be come a more engaged member of the meeting. Use an instant messaging application to stay engaged with others in the meeting. Utilize web conferencing tools, like ReadyTalk, to share your screen and view the slideshow of others while meeting. Politely ask your colleagues to speak clearly and be more verbose instead of exchanging non-verbal cues. Be a more deliberate communicator from your end of the meeting and don't be afraid to interrupt so that you are heard.
- Establish ground rules at the beginning of your remote collaboration session.
At the beginning of any remote collaboration session, whether your colleagues are all remote or you are the only remote participant, establish ground rules for communication to set yourself up for a successful meeting. It's easy for only the loudest or most opinionated people to be heard; by setting simple ground rules and being a little more patient, all members of the meeting will be heard even if they can't be seen. When getting buy-in on a topic or when asking for feedback, individually call out all members of meeting to get their specific feedback.
- Make sure you are speaking on a headset and have a solid internet connection.
The easiest way to ruin a remote meeting session is to have a poor audio or web conference connection. Do yourself and your colleagues a favor and invest in a headset or headphones with a mic if you're on a cell phone. If you're working from home set up a simple workstation with a wired internet connection so that your web conference has less of a chance of failing or being so slow it's unworkable. This simple tip will go the farthest in setting yourself up for success while in a remote collaboration session.
- Don't multi-task.
Lets face it, who doesn't love working on email and other projects while sitting on a conference call or web conference. While multi-tasking is nice, wouldn't it be more enjoyable to just work with some music playing over headphones than listening to the drone of a meeting in the background? The fact is you will get back to work faster if you are actively participating in the meeting you're currently listening to, not to mention you will feel more engaged and feel more camaraderie with your colleagues if you are paying closer attention.
- Make it fun!
Just because you can't meet in person doesn't mean you have to lose your personality. Make a point to reserve the first few minutes of a meeting to catching up with colleagues you haven't seen in a while, vacations you have planned, or something funny that happened to you recently. This fosters a team rapport and will ultimately help your virtual collaboration sessions by creating a more personal remote environment.