5 Tips For Building Good Online Collaboration Habits (That Will Also Impress Your Teammates)

Congratulations. You just landed your dream job working from home. Or, perhaps you were promoted and now are part of a division of your company that is located all over the world. In either case, you are part of a “virtual team," and that comes with some unique challenges (and opportunities!). First, you should remember virtual teams lose out on some of the key communication tools in-person teams regularly leverage. Virtual teams don’t have as many natural opportunities to connect, both formally and informally, with peers. Some of these moments include:

  • Traditional in-office meetings
  • Brainstorming around a whiteboard
  • Stopping by someone’s office to ask a quick question
  • Working through a tough problem one-on-one over coffee
  • Catching up in the lunchroom
As a result, if you aren’t vigilant about building good online collaboration habits, your success on the team could suffer. What can you do to replace these important opportunities for bonding with co-workers, and increase your productivity and satisfaction working together?

Online Collaboration Tools Are Your Lifeline

Online communication tools can be the secret weapon. When you train yourself and your teammates to work with each other in certain ways, you can ensure that you are making the most of your efforts. Here are five tips to build better habits:

1. Set regular video meetings.

Scheduling on-camera meet-ups with your team on a weekly basis gives you the facetime needed to maintain the trust and respect of your peers. One of the things I really love about Microsoft Teams is that it allows you to both video chat and IM multiple team members at any one time. The time you spend video chatting will make your feel better understood and closer to your teammates.

2. Always share documentation with your comments.

When you invite teammates to collaborate on a document, be sure to offer your commentary as a way to drive their participation. For example, if you have written up a proposal in MS Word, be specific in the areas that you would like teammates to review and comment on. Providing them a checklist of things you want reviewed helps them structure their feedback to you online.

3. Direct message your co-workers on a regular basis.

Don’t wait until you have an urgent need to reach out to a co-worker online. If you are only contacting them when there is an issue, they’ll associate you with bad news. Regularly send private messages to teammates to check in and say “hi” - features like emoticons and chat stickers can bring a more natural expression of emotion. In the same way you would ask how they are doing in the office, you can recreate that same friendly rapport online. It’s also important to offer praise and gratitude. A quick “thank you” and “you’re amazing” goes a long way online!

4. Share challenges, and seek group feedback and ideas.

When you’re hitting a roadblock, don’t be shy, post your challenge within your online tool so others can weigh in. Remember that the IQ of a team is higher than the average of the IQs of the individuals on it.

5. Offer resources and insights so others can learn and share.

The best part about online collaboration is the ability to instantly share and co-author valuable articles, videos, and other resources that can educate and inspire your peers. For example, with Microsoft Teams, you can easily post things from your desktop or online and give your peers instant access to valuable content. When you leverage the techniques above via a good online collaboration platform, you will find it easier to stay on the same page with your peers and reflect more of your offline behaviors in an online world. Using these tools to build proper habits will make it easier. The sooner you make these part of your daily work routine, the better you will feel about your impact on your virtual team. This post is sponsored by Microsoft Teams.

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