Best Practices for Online Collaboration with Remote Workers

There’s little doubt that since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, remote work is a trend that’s likely here to stay. It’s probably no surprise, given that a majority of workers want to continue working remotely even after the pandemic ends.

But moving to remote work has its pitfalls. And in today’s global environment, where workers can be based anywhere, there are additional obstacles to full online collaboration. For one, there’s the issue of time zones, where workers are not necessarily available to do work simultaneously. Then there’s the challenge of internet connections, where some workers may not have access to high-speed internet that allows them to easily collaborate in real time.

But where there are obstacles to collaboration, there are certainly ways to overcome them! Here are a few best practices that we’ve found to be useful in fostering online communication with remote workers.

Develop Collaboration Processes

If workers can’t collaborate in real time, it becomes essential for them to be able to collaborate asynchronously. But that can get messy if no processes are set. For example, one worker might prefer to work on a document on Google Docs, while another prefers Microsoft Word. What’s more, it may sometimes be unclear when a document that’s being collaborated on is actually done.

Defining a set process for collaboration can help alleviate these issues. It doesn’t have to be complicated, either. For example, a collaboration process might look like this:

  • Worker A creates a first draft of a document and sends that to the team for feedback/edits.
  • The team is given a set number of hours or business days to comment.
  • Once comments are compiled, Worker A then makes the changes and sends the document to a supervisor for final feedback/edits.

Of course, this is just one way of doing things. Whatever works best for your business, the benefit is having the process defined.

Set Regularly Scheduled Meetings with Clear Agendas

No one likes to be surprised by meetings, and remote workers are certainly no different. After all, they have lives outside of work, too. And if your team is in a different time zone, then holding ad hoc meetings can be particularly challenging and difficult. Imagine, you’re eating your dinner after a long day, and a coworker messages you that you need to be a part of a meeting that’s happening in 10 minutes. That type of scenario certainly isn’t fun for the worker, nor is it likely to garner their enthusiastic participation.

Instead, come up with an agreed upon time that works for everyone to meet on a regular basis. What’s more, to ensure everyone’s time is respected, it’s good to come up with an agenda in advance so that issues are tackled in a timely manner.


Make Use of Online Collaboration Tools

This might seem obvious to some, but it’s essential for remote workers to be able to collaborate using good online collaboration tools. This ensures that everyone stays on the same page in terms of project status, next steps, etc.

Tools can be broken down into several categories:

  • Communication (video, instant messaging, etc.)
  • Project Management
  • Calendar sharing
  • File sharing/management
  • Whiteboard

Not only is important to have everyone using the same tools, but it’s also essential to ensure everyone knows how to use them to their fullest extent.

Remote work is here to stay, and the more collaborative your team can be, the more productive they’ll be. And the bigger the impact they’ll have on your business.