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Challenges (and solutions) of remote collaboration

Posted on 28 July 2015 in the category Tips and inspiration .

The growing trend of online collaboration is both a blessing and a curse. It enables us to get a lot more work done, from wherever we are. As you may know though, it also has challenges. Read these tips to find out how you can overcome those challenges.

Use these simple, actionable solutions to make sure your remote collaboration on any project goes as smoothly as possible.

Challenge: Lack of direct communication

Lack of direct communication may not seem like a big remote collaboration challenge, but it can easily lead to misunderstandings. Which can lead to the wrong work being done or feelings being hurt. You lose a lot of context when you’re working together remotely, so make sure to cover that ground in other ways.

Solution: Set ground rules

Set ground rules about communication. Talk about how you’re going to communicate when you’re not face-to-face to avoid miscommunications. For example, exchange phone numbers and agree to call when something is unclear, or set up a weekly video call appointment to clear up any possible misunderstandings. Emoticons are also a good way to convey emotion, which can prevent the intended message from being received inaccurately.

Challenge: Hindered access to project data

When you start collaborating remotely, you become limited by your own data. A good way to prevent this is to use tools that store data online. We have online servers that store all the images you upload, as well as your magazines in their entirety, which by the way, is free forever. However, if you find that when collaborating remotely you’re missing vital data, you have a problem that needs solving.

Solution: Develop a habit of sharing 

When you start collaborating online, it’s good to develop a habit of sharing. Upload all the relevant information, documents and files you may have so that your team can access them at all times. Make sure not to share too much though, otherwise you’ll have trouble organizing all the shared data. When in doubt, make sure the right people have the right data. Not everyone may need access to certain files. Make sure the people that do need it, have access.

Challenge: Difficulties in reporting progress

Once you start collaborating remotely, it can be difficult to report progress. Your team won’t be able to tell when you’ve finished a task. It’s important to keep this in mind as you’re making progress.

Solution: Create small tasks

Create small tasks for yourself (or for your team). At the end of the day, communicate all the tasks you’ve completed to your team. This way everyone will be reporting progress and feeling fulfilled. Don’t forget to show your team appreciation for the work they’re doing.

Collaborating remotely takes some time to get used to, but once you do and learn how to tackle the challenges, it’s a great way to get focused and get a lot of work done together.

Learn more with our series on collaborating remotely on a magazine.

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