Build trust, communicate consistently and show up
Working online is a given these days. However, achieving effective digital collaboration is more complex. Lack of real-life presence and body language cues can make connecting more difficult and, as a result, collaboration less effective. This series of eLearning Skills 2030 explores the key skills, both soft and technical, that you need to future-proof your career and lead your team. This article explores digital collaboration skills, why it’s important, and what steps you can take today to improve.
What is digital collaboration?
During the 2020-21 Covid-19 pandemic, we all experienced the power and impact of digital collaboration and the incredible results and even the exhaustion that came with it. Online meetings on platforms like Zoom and MS Teams, teaching through webcasts and live online courses, collaborating in team chatrooms, co-authoring documents and shared spreadsheets, connecting instantly through instant messaging, networking or exchanging information through social media. Traditional email, we’ve all lived a life of digital collaboration. The kicker is that digital collaboration will likely continue to grow even as organizations continue to struggle to return to the office and explore hybrid workplaces.
Why is digital collaboration essential?
Despite the Zoom fatigue we’ve all experienced recently, digital collaboration will continue to grow due to a number of positive business outcomes, including improved efficiency, increased team interaction, faster access to information, increased speed of decision-making, easier knowledge sharing, and reduced organizational knowledge. Silos Generation Y and Generation Alpha grew up with digital collaboration and engagement tools and platforms, including Wikipedia, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and TikTok. People around the world collaborate digitally to solve problems, learn new things, connect and generate new ideas. As a result, digital collaboration has increased creativity and innovation at the employee level, flattened hierarchies, and improved communication in numerous organizations. At the organizational level, digital collaboration has reduced costs associated with travel and brick-and-mortar offices. This boosted morale because employees were no longer tied to a brick-and-mortar office but could work more efficiently from anywhere. MIT Sloan research shows that digital collaboration platforms, which include a number of collaboration tools and channels that enable employees to interact, make efficiencies more visible within organizations, facilitate the ability of employees to work more efficiently across projects, and leverage within project teams. network. and develops meta-knowledge outside of the organization and traditionally shared through communities of practice or rotational programs.
How can you sharpen your digital collaboration skills?
To collaborate effectively on digital platforms, you need to have digital skills to know the technical elements of the platform you’re using and how to navigate digital netiquette. In this article, I offer three strategies for building your digital etiquette: building trust, using clear communication, and being prepared.
One of the first steps to building trust in a digital environment is meeting and getting to know your team members. One way to do this is to spend the first few minutes of your one-on-one meetings asking your team members about their daily lives. You can ask them about the health and well-being of their family members, hobbies and pets. Asking such basic questions reminds us that our human connections come first. A second way to get to know each other is to spend 15 minutes or more chatting with members of the organization you don’t know about common or new interests and set up a virtual peer-to-peer mentoring program that strengthens the team. Members to learn from each other. Leaders in various organizations set up virtual office hours or coffee hours with their teams to strengthen engagement. These meetings are usually non-mandatory and can create a private and informal virtual setting that helps team members connect and build trust.
Communicate transparently and consistently
The digital workplace removes body language cues and, as a result, makes it harder for us to connect with less visual and body language data. Additionally, navigating audio and video technology mishaps in the virtual workplace, toggling from one virtual meeting to the next, tending to a child who needs a snack or trying to calm a barking dog add stress. During virtual communication, we can build trust by being transparent and consistent. being transparent It means you clearly state what you mean and mean what you say. Your actions, in any setting, whether physical or virtual, must align with your words. Being transparent in a virtual environment can be more complicated because others can’t see you in person and they can miss any body language clues. be consistent, Virtually or otherwise, there are several elements involved, including showing up, sticking to a schedule, and being prepared.
Show up ready
When collaborating digitally, showing up means clearly stating when you’ll be available online and when others won’t be able to reach you. When you are online, you must be on time. If you’re leading the meeting, it’s always a good idea to show up 5 to 10 minutes early to test your audio and video, as well as the ability to share your screen to share your slides or other visuals. being prepared This means that if you’re leading a meeting, it’s always a good idea to show up 5 to 10 minutes early to test your audio and video, as well as test your screen sharing capabilities to share your slides or other visuals. Being prepared means you’ve prepared an agenda and you’ve set meeting goals and shared them with the team ahead of time. This means that you are prepared to answer questions and address attendees’ concerns during the meeting. Here, the previous points about communicating transparently and consistently come into play.
While today we may take for granted working online after more than two years of engaging and transacting online, digital collaboration goes a step further and requires three underlying skills to be effective: building trust, communicating transparently and consistently, and being prepared.