Get immersed in collaboration. It's liberating.
October 12, 2021 · 4 min readCollaboration
In the not-so-distant past, a workplace was a physical place where a group of people came together to work.
Today, working with a team isn’t as simple or straightforward as it used to be. People don’t need an office to come together anymore. And even in companies that have a physical location, one finds that work-from-home employees, remote workers, and freelancers often make up a percentage of the team. The result is that collaborating, coming up with creative solutions to problems, and creating a sense of personal connection amongst team members is more difficult than before.
Thankfully, new and exciting technologies are here to help. With these — as well as with some creativity on your part — you can bring employees together through immersive collaboration, regardless of where they're physically located.
Immersive collaboration combines up-to-date technological advances with real-time collaboration practices to bring teams together in an online location, allowing them to communicate, work together, and effectively build relationships regardless of physical location.
Some companies rely solely on chat rooms and video conferencing to hold important meetings. But those that rely on numerous collaborative technologies can keep team members engaged with each other throughout the day. Instead of merely keeping chat rooms active, you can get creative — from working together on documents that update in real-time to developing entire Second Life servers that allow your team members to visually collaborate on shared work and mingle at the virtual water cooler.
There are a variety of tools and techniques you can use to bring immersive collaboration to your team. Examples of related technologies include:
Online chat rooms
Video conferencing apps
Shared to-do lists
Documents that update in real-time
3D collaborating spaces, such as Second Life
Instant translation technology to help team members who speak different languages
How you use these tools to foster collaboration is a key aspect of your company’s personality.
Some companies may choose to create teams of 3-4 members who work together on a project, using tools like Discord or GTalk to keep in touch.
Other companies may choose to hold virtual mixers. This helps team members who might not have opportunities to frequently interact. They can meet each other, talk, and learn about one another’s roles in the workplace.
Whichever route you go, remember that the goal is to rebuild the workplace as a community rather than a network of individuals. In a community, every member has value, and their role in the community is appreciated and respected. You can encourage this mindset by doing things like:
Recognizing valuable contributions that community members make to the team
Encouraging team members to reach out to each other about problems instead of always communicating through their supervisor
Taking polls and asking for opinions on changes in the community
Hosting volunteer events and encouraging team members to participate
Immersive collaboration takes the benefits of working in real-time with team members on a project and extends them to those who are working in different locations. Companies that integrate this into their workflow foster a sense of community, keep teams up to date, and include different voices on a project.
Unfortunate results come with the lack of a strong sense of community in the workplace, such as a high turnover rate amongst employees. Without a sense of community, employees don’t feel attached to a specific work environment. So instead of working their way through the ranks, they’re more likely to take different opportunities when they come up.
Immersive workplaces show employees that they aren’t working in a vacuum. Rather, opportunities are available for them to make those crucial friendships that have been shown to improve career satisfaction.
One of the worst feelings as an employee is the feeling of being left out. You don’t want to hear about major changes to the office or business from third parties — you want those updates to come directly to you from your supervisors or team members. In fact, being left out of major changes or email chains can lead employees to feel ostracized and unimportant. That can derail their trust in an organization and reduce motivation.
Unfortunately, hybrid or remote staff can sometimes be left out of the loop when changes happen, especially if they occur without much warning. Sometimes supervisors are simply busy and overlook certain staff during decisions.
By using the above-mentioned technologies to collaborate regularly with your virtual employees, you can include them more often and strengthen their sense of belonging to your organization.
Creative projects require collaboration. Teams that can look at a problem from multiple perspectives are more likely to find solutions that work. It’s not enough to just ask for opinions during the all-staff meeting — team members may not have had a chance to think through all sides of a project. They may even feel too overwhelmed by the size of a group to bring up their concerns
By using immersive collaboration techniques on a regular basis, you can benefit from these other voices. You can get together with small groups to learn how different departments may be impacted by decisions you’re making or reach out to individual team members to hear their ideas regarding a problem.
If you’re trying to bring long-distance teams together, Grok can help. We offer an all-in-one collaboration platform that integrates with both Google and Outlook calendars, allowing your team to plan meetings, work together, and improve your collaboration over time. Not only do we provide fully-tested playbooks for meetings, training, and more, but we also offer real-time metrics so that you can analyze how well Grok is improving your communication and make adjustments that work for your team.
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