In light of recent world events, many companies are being forced to transition from a standard office environment to a remote work setting. Without preparation or time to cope, the change has been swift, and in many cases, not without issues. With so many guides and information being published online about remote work, we at Collavate wanted to share our experience working in a largely remote environment in our day to day lives. Everyone knows communication is key, but with so many options available, which one do you use?
What this boils down to is a decision based on what medium is appropriate for the conversation to be had. Meetings can be shared chats for a daily connection, a call or video for more important correspondence. Where then, do we create a virtual “office space” so to speak. Many teams use whiteboards, printed documents, and other physical artifacts to collaborate. Replacing a physical medium or artifact can be difficult without experience. Collavate seeks to ease this problem space by creating a dedicated collaborative environment for entire enterprise domains, small businesses, and teams.
With Collavate you can start a conversation, create a well rounded document, and submit it for review and approval, and create a published copy all in one place. For remote teams, document creation and review becomes a streamlined process. Instead of sending endless emails for edits and changes, the conversation stays in one thread with everyone’s input. Getting approval is simple, too. With multi-layered and parallel approvals, Collavate makes it easy to gather opinions of team leads or more senior employees before sending the document to a higher authority automatically.
In our day to day, we use Collavate in many different ways. Our Compliance Manager, Matt, creates and submits documents, storing important metadata in each file. This data is used for many purposes, the most imporant of which is auditing. Collavate keeps track of version history and other document activities by user, keeping a detailed paper trail for each creation, edit, and approval. This pays in droves during audits, because much of this information is necessary for a thorough quality policy.
As a Designer for Collavate, I submit mockups, wireframes, planning documents, and all types of text documents through our system. It helps me ensure every level of management has signed off on a project before moving forward. Our main goal at Collavate is to streamline and improve the way documents live. Living documents are becoming ever more and more important pieces of many business aspects. You can keep submitting a document, regardless of it has been approved or rejected previously, to maintain the historical information of the document, and also access the versioning to show the change over time. This is extremely helpful when looking back for previous features or old ideas to be reimplemented.
Outside of our product, there are important things to consider when starting to be a fully remote team. Communication is key, as I said before, but what is also important is varying the types of communication you have. Make sure to have multiple ways to connect with your teams and employees; voice, email, video, and posting are all great ways to stay connected, but using all of them is the best practice. If you rely too heavily on text or email chats, feeling begins to drain away from the communication. It is much more difficult to gauge someone’s mood or their tone without connecting with a more contextually rich medium. Using voice and video are not always necessary, but they do add a softer touch. We like to post emojis, gifs, and photos to help address the way we feel, and also add images to posts and replies to clarify what we mean.
The bottom line is: keep communicating with your team. Make sure to dedicate time for communication with smaller groups of people, or individually if you can swing it. Give your employees the support and tools they need. There may be some adjustments in the beginning, but everything will fall into place with a bit of time and persistence.