HR Insights 4 min

5 Ways to Improve Collaboration in Your Remote HR Team

August 20, 2020

Even in the best of times, it can be tough to facilitate collaboration on an HR team. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it might seem downright impossible. Many companies have transitioned to remote work, requiring HR functions to be handled outside of the office. But how can you help your HR pros put their heads together when they’re not in the same room?

5 Ways to Improve Remote Collaboration:

Here are five great ways to foster and maintain better remote collaboration.

1. Keep Everyone Informed

From guiding recruiting efforts to rolling out a new benefits package, today’s busy HR teams juggle dozens of tasks that have multiple steps and stakeholders. When you’re working remotely, it can be tough to keep everyone on the HR team up to date on the status of each project and keep the work moving forward.

One solution that’s ideal for remote HR work is project management software. It helps HR teams plan and track every step toward a project’s completion while keeping everything organized and everyone on the same page. In addition to promoting better communication and collaboration, project management tools help ensure that the team is meeting its goals and deadlines.

What Matters Most to HR Teams in 2020? [Survey]

2. Do Digital Stand-Ups

A stand-up meeting may already be a part of your team’s routine. If not, now is the perfect time to start. Brief, member-by-member updates keep everyone in the loop about where projects stand.

Additionally, HR projects tend to have lots of steps, so staying up to date is key. For example, implementing a small business 401(k) involves choosing a plan, selecting a recordkeeper, determining whether you need a financial advisor or third-party administrator, choosing plan features, and more. Those steps should already be listed in your project management software, but digital stand-ups give everyone a chance to discuss them. Team members can ask questions, make suggestions, and pitch in if necessary.

Decide with the team how you would like to perform the stand-ups. Perhaps you’ll want to have a video call in the morning, or maybe it’s enough for everyone to send bullet points in a Slack channel. Either way, it’s critical to keep everyone in the loop.

No matter how many miles apart your team members are, a little remote face time can bring them together and remind everyone how much they enjoy working as a team.

3. Embrace Videoconferencing

Can your HR team get everything done via chat and email? Great—but there are still times when videoconferencing may be a better idea.

For example, video conferences have cultural benefits. Talking face to face—even online—encourages friendly interactions and teamwork in ways that sending written messages back and forth simply can’t. No matter how many miles apart your team members are, a little remote face time can bring them together and remind everyone how much they enjoy working as a team. And whenever a new team member is hired, hopping on a video call is a great way to help the team and the new hire get to know one another.

Videoconferencing can also help prevent messages from being misunderstood. When someone reads a chat or an email, they have to decide for themselves what the writer’s intentions are and what the message means. Videoconferencing gives you a wealth of additional cues to help you understand the message more clearly. You can see other participants’ emotions, hear their inflection and tone of voice, and ask questions if you’re still not sure.

4. When in Doubt, Schedule It Out

Attending too many meetings can be draining—but since COVID-19 protocols prevent your team from running into each other at the office, you need to schedule more interactions. Just remember that many business meetings don’t need to be long to accomplish what’s needed. For instance, if two team members need to discuss a candidate’s qualifications, which might previously have been done informally in the office, it might only require a 10-minute online meeting.

Don’t forget about purely social activities, either. They are an important part of your company culture. For example, if your team typically went out to lunch together on Fridays, consider scheduling a video conference at lunchtime on Fridays so you can still enjoy visiting together over your meal.

Image suggestion: a Zoom-type meeting on a computer screen, showing several participants visiting and maybe eating lunch too.

5. Create a Channel Guide

How do members of your team know whether to choose phone, email, or chat to share something? Unless you tell them, they’ll default to their personal preferences, which may conflict with the communication and collaboration preferences of others.

Create a simple document that explains when everyone should use each channel. For example:

  • Video conferences: Team meetings, happy hours, and other business or social group gatherings.
  • Phone calls: One-on-one conversations and complex questions requiring long answers.
  • Emails: Less complex questions, sharing documents, and providing brief teamwide updates.
  • Slack: Quick questions, instant polls, along with banter and other non-essential conversations.

Different teams may have different needs and preferences. For the best results, let everyone on your team collaborate on the channel guide, so they’ll reach a consensus. The goal is to help each communication channel do what it does best, fostering clear communication and more helpful collaboration.

Communication Is the Key to Successful Collaboration

Whether you’re working remotely or face to face, collaboration is essential to success. In turn, the key to successful collaboration is to use the tools and processes that best fit your organization’s culture and circumstances. In addition to considering the ideas we’ve presented here, ask your remote team for their suggestions. You may well find there’s no better way to improve remote collaboration than by collaborating on it!

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