Whether you are a freelancer or micro-business with remote clients, or have a team that’s spread across different offices in different cities, it’s important to keep in touch regularly to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Collaboration with remote workers can be a tricky business, especially if you still rely on email to do the job. Long, confusing group message chains make it all to too easy for people to drop out of the loop, for that important file to disappear, or those client amendments to get lost in the process.
Maybe you’re working from a home office or have customers in distant lands. Either way, there are good and bad ways to go about collaborating remotely.
Here are some ground rules for getting it right.
1. Create a dedicated space to connect
A shared online space is like a virtual meeting room. A place where you can chat, collaborate, and drop links and files is a great way to work remotely and collaboratively.
There are many of tools that can help you with this, so choose wisely. Do you need a whole suite of functions, or a simple place to communicate and drop important files for comments? Having this space like this can be invaluable for many reasons: as a place to show your work so far, a stream for discussing developments, and a central location for you to share ideas for your collaborators to pick up at a time that suits them.
A space like this will also allow you to take advantage of the lack of interruptions from working remotely. When you pick up where your collaborators left off, it gives you plenty of breathing room and time to think about the next step. It keeps the conversation going without having to set aside a time that suits everyone. Once you get into a rhythm, this can make for a very fluid, tandem work flow.
With that in mind…
2. Keep the conversation going
The best working relationships accommodate a bit of conversation outside of the task at hand. Having a dedicated space to chat and share links can open up the conversations you have with your collaborators, allow you to discuss bigger issues around your work, and to chat casually. When your client or collaborator has a place to go to focus on your project, you can remove a lot of other distractions.
As an added bonus, dropping in to check up on how things are going shows that you care and will strengthen your relationship overall, and may even lead to surprising ideas and developments.
3. Keep a record of developments
Having a dedicated space for collaboration means you automatically build up a helpful paper-trail of your process and the fruits of your labour. If things go off course, you can go back and identify the kink that led you there.
If you begin to deal with scope creep or have trouble managing expectations, you’ll have an easier time finding those initial agreements, allowing you to spend less time searching and more time problem solving. We’ll be sharing more of our tips on client communication in future posts.
What are your top tips for remote collaboration? Please leave a comment or tweet us at @ShareflowHQ.