According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index, 62% of employees are frequently collaborating with others in different time zones or locations. As the number of dispersed teams continues to grow, so have the amount of communication and collaboration tools. While this may be beneficial to companies, we cannot overlook the challenges they are facing as a result.
Collocated vs. Dispersed Teams
When employees share the same workspace, they are likely able to collaborate much faster than those who do not. It’s easy to stop by a manager’s office to ask a question, pull up a chair at a co-worker’s desk, or attend in-person meetings with any other employee at the same location. As a result, the interactions seem more spontaneous and genuine. Coordinating tasks may be easier, as the communication process is more continuous.
Dispersed teams are great for bringing more insight to the company and allowing a greater scope for customer acquisition. On the other hand, they lack the same human connection that collocated teams have naturally. Their office culture is often different from one another and effective communication may sometimes be tough. As humans, we are wired to develop trust and relationships based on factors other than speech, such as body language. Since we still value face-to-face communication, the main challenge is to find a system to mimic that interaction.
The Art of Video Conferences
One of the ways we can overcome a lack of connection between dispersed teams is by setting up video conferences. Communicating through video is different than emails and phone calls because it provides a richer experience. It helps employees stay in tune with visual cues, which tricks them into thinking that they may not be so far away after all. Also, this mode of communication encourages engagement by making it harder to check emails and do other things during the meeting. Thus, a stronger connection is built and team members can collaborate more naturally.
Building the Right Space
In order for video conferences to be effective, it’s important to make sure that the physical space is properly set up to support them. For instance, round tables give the illusion that everyone is sharing the same room, whereas long rectangular tables make this type of interaction more difficult. Also keep in mind that everyone should be visible on camera, with a good view of the screen.
In an ideal world, top executives would be able to travel regularly between one office location and another, but this may not be the case for many companies. Even so, it’s critical to find ways to improve collaboration between dispersed teams. Video conferencing is a great approach that allows co-workers to feel more connected.
About the Author