With that in mind, we’ve collected insights from Aperian Global’s 30 years of experience in the marketplace to develop the COMPLETE GUIDE TO VIRTUAL COLLABORATION.
Use this guide to virtual collaboration as a “road map” for the new online working world.
This guide presents important information and strategies for:
Let’s start off with the most basic of basics: what is virtual collaboration, and what are virtual teams?
It’s likely you’ve participated in virtual collaboration today as part of a virtual team; in fact, you might be doing it right now in a different browser window (we won’t judge)!
Virtual collaboration, by definition, is how people work together to get business done in a digital environment; a virtual team is the collection of people (employees, management, contractors, vendors, even clients and customers) that work together to get that business done.
With virtual collaboration, a virtual team relies on technology-based products to accomplish their project goals – everything from meetings and cross-discipline collaborative management to final sign-offs on plans.
It’s a big and broad element of modern business. It’s also absolutely essential. Let’s start in on a “deep dive” on virtual collaboration and working remotely.
When it comes to the question of “what does working remotely mean,” the answer is relatively simple: working remotely is the process of doing normal business functions from locations other than a centralized office.
In the modern working world, “working remotely” comes intertwined with virtual collaboration and virtual teams – both of these elements (along with collaboration tools powered by the web) form the backbone of most modern working environments.
So, just how important are these elements in that modern working world?
If there is one thing that recent global events have shown us, it’s this: working remotely through effective virtual collaboration and effective virtual teams might make up the single most important element in the modern working world.
Let’s let the statistics speak for themselves.
If your organization does not have the tools, techniques, skills, and savviness needed to communicate virtually between themselves and customers both current and potential, then your organization is in tremendous danger of falling fatally behind the curve.
As previously stated, virtual collaboration isn’t just a nice bonus feature of the office anymore. It’s staggering to see just how far we’ve come with regard to virtual collaboration across the office. Many of us have been in the workforce long enough to remember the days when the “conference call” was something exotic – and, oftentimes, something that barely worked!
Even through the mid-2000s, most business models focused on the “one location” layout. Technology – like the conference call – was only implemented if an employee was out sick, or in some other far-flung office. The virtual communication tools that we use so commonly today seemed futuristic and out of reach.
Then … technology caught up, and the world changed. As technology advanced at an exponential rate, the rise of broadband internet access brought the world closer together than ever. This made real, effective, comprehensive, and full-time remote work more than just a curiosity; now, it was commonplace – and then world events showed that many companies could survive (and even thrive) with the remote workforce.
These statistics underscore the explosion of remote work:
Now, global companies need to create a seamless work environment integrating both remote workers and office-based staff. They need to use remote offices that unite employees across continents and time-zones. In-person communication is wonderful – and there is no substitute for it. However, in the modern world, it’s just not viable to rely on in-person communication to get all your business done.
Virtual collaboration and virtual teams are here to stay – and we’re here to help you with it.
This Complete Guide to Virtual Collaboration and Virtual Teams brings in all the knowledge, intelligence, and experience Aperian Global has built up over its 30 years in business to help you navigate this brave new world of business.
As we’ve stated, virtual collaboration is a necessity for the modern working world. However, right alongside all of its power, promise, and potential, virtual collaboration presents significant challenges for all business elements. From managers and employees to events, logistics, and even training, all business sectors need to adjust to virtual collaboration.
Those in a position of leadership face a unique set of challenges when it comes to managing virtual teams and managing remote employees. Management and leadership present its own obstacles in the regular, face-to-face working world; the digital environment presents a wider set of challenges for virtual management and virtual leadership.
These challenges include:
Managers aren’t the only parts of the workforce that face significant challenges when it comes to virtual collaboration. The digital landscape can prove to be a confusing and demanding workspace for those in non-management, as well. “How to work from home successfully” is a question constantly on the mind of these employees – especially if this is their first time in this environment.”
Successfully navigating virtual collaboration is a key element to maintaining productivity and personal growth within an organization.
These challenges employees face include:
While developing, coordinating, and managing in-person events has traditionally been a logistical challenge, putting on digital events – from corporate meetings to project showcases and conferences – for a virtual audience creates a whole new set of things to think about.
These challenges include:
As an organization, your people are your best asset – and proper training and smooth integration into your workforce are key when bringing in new talent. However, training and onboarding through virtual collaboration may prove difficult for both sides of the equation.
These challenges include:
Luckily, there is a wealth of solutions out there to meet every challenge that virtual collaboration might throw in an organization’s way. Let’s break down these solutions by category here.
In order to make sure your entire team – from leadership to management on down – has the best and smoothest virtual collaboration experience when working remotely, having the top online collaboration tools and the best remote management tools are absolutely key.
These can be as simple as an app that goes on a smartphone, or as comprehensive as an all-in-one project management software. Whatever their function, the best online collaboration tools and remote management tools increase problem-solving ability while enhancing productivity and efficiency.
Here are just some of the best tools you should consider for virtual collaboration:
In the virtual collaboration world, it’s essential to find the perfect balance of virtual management. There’s always a delicate balance between overmanaging and undermanaging – especially for those that are managing in the virtual realm for the first time. Looking for that balance?
Here are some strategies.
Another common challenge when it comes to modern virtual teams? Bringing on new employees. The onboarding process can be long and stressful for both parties in a face-to-face environment; the virtual world exacerbates some of these challenges.
So, how can an organization make this process easier? Here are some suggestions:
As we’ve outlined here, the virtual workforce brings with it many challenges and a significant number of benefits. As the world grows increasingly smaller, virtual collaboration allows for borders to disappear – both the physical ones between cultures, and the traditional “borders” that constrained business to certain time zones, locations, countries, markets, and more.
Embracing the opportunities virtual collaboration and virtual teams present to the marketplace is an absolute must for companies of all shapes and sizes. By working with the suggestions and guidance detailed here, companies can secure their foothold in the new digital environment and carve out a sustainable – and profitable – place in a marketplace full of active, cutting-edge competition.