As remote work and distributed teams become more common, the need for video collaboration tools will only increase. But whether your team works together via computer screens or face to face, proper collaboration techniques must be employed.
In this article, we'll outline the four foundational principles of effective workplace collaboration. By the end, you'll have a firm understanding of why collaboration is important and how to do it successfully. Let's dive in!
Why is Team Collaboration so Important?
Before we dive into the specifics of video collaboration, let's first discuss why collaboration — the act of working with another person or persons to achieve a common goal — is so important.
There are plenty of reasons why you should make an effort to improve collaboration with your team. A few of the more prominent ones are improved productivity, boosted creativity, and more healthy office relationships. A team that collaborates well will be much more effective than ones that don't. Take a quick look at these statistics:
- According to Salesforce, 86% of employees and executives list poor collaboration and communication as a reason for workplace failure.
- And Gusto informs us that 56% of employees agree that a strong sense of office community has encouraged them to stay at a specific job longer than they should have.
- Lastly, a recent study found that companies that promote collaboration are five times more likely to be high performing.
What does this all mean for you and your company? It means that collaboration is key to business success and has been proven to help prevent failure, retain top employees, and improve workplace productivity and effectiveness.
What is Video Collaboration?
Now that we fully understand the importance of collaborating effectively, let's dig deeper into a specific kind of collaboration: video collaboration.
Video collaboration is simply the act of collaborating with other team members via some kind of video collaboration software. As the number of remote workers and distributed teams continues to rise, the need for video collaboration tools has exploded. In fact, the market is expected to grow to $10.5 billion by the year 2026, which would represent a 200% increase in 10 years.
More and more businesses are seeing the benefits of video collaboration and companies like CloudApp work hard to provide the latest technology so that teams can work together effectively — even if each member happens to be in a different time zone.
The Principles of Effective Collaboration
Can we agree that video collaboration is important to working effectively and productively in the modern age? Great, then let's move on to the nitty gritty details of collaborating successfully. The foundational principles listed below will help improve your collaboration skills — whether you plan to collaborate with your team in person or via video software.
1. Make Collaboration a Priority
If you really want to collaborate effectively with your team, you have to first make collaboration a priority. Not everyone excels in the teamwork department. Some people have "lone wolf" mentalities and prefer to operate on a solo basis.
While it's important to respect individual working preferences (within reason), we've already seen that a complete lack of collaboration leads to less creativity, lower team morale, and overall reduced productivity. Your office needs to find and strike the perfect balance between individual working preferences and team collaboration.
Other folks on your team may not be opposed to working more collaboratively, they just might not be used to the idea. If they're not familiar with this kind of working environment, you may need to sell them on the idea and get them excited to work collectively.
Make no mistake, in the beginning, collaborating with other team members when they're used to handling things themselves will be a challenge. Change is never easy. But if you can convey the benefits of collaboration, as well as the potential pitfalls should they not begin collaborating, you'll be able to motivate your team to work together.
2. Clarify Team Goals and Objectives
Now that you've made collaboration a priority and gotten your team on board, it's time to clarify your group's goals and objectives. What are you hoping to achieve? And why does it matter that you reach these aims?
Much has been written in the past about the power of goal setting. If you don't know where you're going, how can you possibly expect to get there? The answer is, you can't. But goal setting is even more crucial when collaborating with other staff members. If you and your team aren't on the same page, your collaboration efforts will fail.
So before attempting to collaborate, clarify team goals and make sure that everyone is on board with them. (Note: if you're the boss, you don't need employee approval when choosing goals. But you do need to make sure that each person on your team understands what's expected of them and what you want achieved.)
When setting goals, we recommend you take the SMART approach. If you're not familiar with this goal setting methodology, SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Let's look at each of these a bit closer.
The goal(s) you choose to work towards should be very specific. For example, "We want to boost conversion rates by 10%" is a much better goal than simply saying, "We want to boost conversion rates." The specificity of the first goal gives your team a tangible target to hit.
It's also important that your collaboration goals are measurable. "Raising conversion rates by 10%" and tracking this metric as it goes up and down is straightforward. If your goals aren't measurable, it will be difficult to gauge progress as you strive to reach them.
The "A" in SMART stands for achievable. The goals you set need to be realistic. We applaud ambition and encourage you to shoot for the moon. Just make sure that your team actually has a chance to accomplish what it sets out to do. Constantly striving after unattainable goals will dramatically lower team morale and make collaborating successfully all but impossible.
A relevant goal is a goal that matters to your company overall. Boosting your organization's social media presence may seem like a great idea. But if most of its sales come from email promotions and your target audience doesn't spend much time on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you'd be better off working towards a different goal.
Finally, every great goal is time-bound, which means that every project your team collaborates on needs a deadline. It could be a week from now or three years down the road, it doesn't matter. Just make sure that each of your objectives has a projected due date that your team can work towards.
When selecting team collaboration goals, make sure they're SMART. Then communicate them clearly to your team before working to accomplish them.
3. Promote Respect and Openness
Prioritizing collaboration and clarifying team goals are vital first steps. But neither will matter if your team doesn't respect each other during the collaboration process. They also need to commit to being open with their ideas.
Have you ever tried to work with someone who never shares their thoughts? They just have ideas and automatically act on them. Even if things work out, it can be a very frustrating environment to work in. You need to encourage your team to "think out loud." Ideas should be shared, vetted, and improved (if necessary) before being put into action.
A true spirit of openness requires two things: bravery and trust. Your team needs to be brave enough to submit ideas to the group. If they're too afraid of their ideas being shot down, true collaboration will never happen.
Trust between collaborators is also essential. Each team member needs to believe that everyone else in the group is honestly working towards the same goal and that team success always comes before personal gain.
All this sounds great in theory but how do you actually promote openness, bravery, and trust in the workplace? You start with ensuring mutual respect within your team. When potential ideas are discarded, it should be done with care. If a team member feels disrespected or embarrassed when working with other collaborators, they'll stop sharing ideas and won't participate in group sessions.
As the leader of your group, you also need to make a conscious effort to be open and transparent with your team. Share with them what's working and what isn't. Let them know the progress that's being made. Invite feedback and suggestions on your own work. If you do these things, your team will follow your lead.
4. Hold Team Members Accountable
Finally, it's important that you hold your team accountable for effective collaboration. Make sure that each staff member participates in group discussions and shares ideas. Like we mentioned earlier, if your team isn't used to working collectively, they'll naturally resist your attempts to make them collaborate. At least in the beginning.
Look for opportunities to bring people together and promote collaboration. Remind your team of the benefits of collaborating. And lead the way by being more collaborative yourself.
In the words of Dr. Graham Hill, "Collaboration only works when individuals within the company act collaboratively." As the leader of your team, it's your job to make sure collaboration happens.
A Few Specific Tips for Remote Team Collaboration
Now, if you're part of a distributed team whose members work remotely from different corners of the world, you'll definitely need to utilize video collaboration. All of the general collaboration tips listed above apply. But here are two more to help with your specific situation.
1. Invest in the Right Tools
When collaborating with remote team members, technology is non-negotiable. It's the only way you'll be able to communicate with each other and stay on the same page. But "technology" could refer to just about anything. For example, email is an important piece of technology but if that's the only way your remote team communicates, you'll likely run into problems.
You need to invest in the right tech tools to ensure your remote team collaborations are effective. Here are a few of the best apps out there in this regard:
Slack is a popular messaging app. You may have heard it referred to as the "email killer" by enthusiastic users. While we don't think email is going anywhere any time soon, we do believe that Slack is a wonderful collaboration tool, especially for remote teams.
The app will allow you to easily organize your conversations with colleagues into different channels, which you can leave and rejoin at any time. You can also use Slack to share files and documents and even video chat.
When it comes to video collaboration, CloudApp takes the cake for most intuitive app. It's screen recording and screen shot features will allow you to easily share what you're working on. If your device has a webcam, you'll also be able to record a video of yourself to send to colleagues. Imagine how much time you'll save by simply speaking your mind rather than typing your thoughts into a 500-word email!
CloudApp also comes with GIF creation and annotation features so that you can easily communicate your ideas.
Highfive is another video collaboration tool, but this one focuses on video conferencing. If you're tired of cumbersome digital meeting rooms and stingy minute limits, you should definitely take a closer look at this app.
Highfive doesn't require pins or passwords to join meetings. Participants simply show up and, you know, participate. It can also be accessed on any internet capable device and integrates with other popular tools like G Suite, Slack, and Skype.
2. Schedule Regular Collaboration Times
Our second tip is to schedule regular collaboration times. Since remote colleagues aren't in the office together (hence the term "remote"), they can't simply walk down the hall, knock on a colleagues door, and ask their opinion on an idea or project.
Fortunately, tools like Slack and CloudApp (mentioned above) make it easy for distributed teams to keep in touch. But we still recommend you set aside specific times each week to meet and bounce ideas off each other, share progress reports, and more.
Your Turn: Win at Video Collaboration!
Congratulations, you now know the four principles of effective collaboration! We encourage you to take what you've learned and apply it to your company immediately. The more collaborative your team becomes, the more success you're likely to have.
When it comes to remote collaboration, the use of video collaboration tools is mandatory. Fortunately, companies like CloudApp offer proven and intuitive solutions for fair prices. Why not give CloudApp a try right now and see for yourself? We're confident that you'll love the screen recording, GIF creation, and image annotation features that come standard.