The Virtual Workplace

Digital tools to improve remote collaboration

Keeping your remote workforce engaged and motivated can be a challenge. Use these four categories of collaboration tools, and suggestions on how to use them...


According to the IWG Global Workplace Survey, more than half of global employees work outside their primary offices or locations at least 2.5 days per week. 

For companies on the fence about letting their employees work from home, it's time to accept the fact that remote working has become the new normal. Gone are the days when the “workplace” was solely thought of as a physical office.

However, remote employees are finding it quite difficult to cope up with these changes. 

Using Tools for Remote Collaboration

From juggling work and family life to feeling lonely and isolated, employees that were accustomed to traditional offices often miss the opportunity for in-person interaction.

To combat this, HR departments need to find and implement methods to ensure that remote employees feel like part of the team. 

One way to promote remote employee collaboration is to leverage virtual team management software for team-building activities that foster trust and company culture.

Let’s take a comprehensive look at the top four types of software to do this, and how each encourages remote team engagement, promotes productivity, and ultimately increases your bottom line.

Employee Motivation and Monitoring Tools

The first step to improving productivity and engagement in your workplace is through proper motivation and insights. 

Rather than surveillance tools, employee motivation tools are designed to help track your employees' tasks, time, browser and app usage, and so much more. Then, you can view all user data in one place to conclude whether they are making the most out of their resources, and how to further leverage these digital tools.

With this insight, you can institute a performance-based reward program in your company that motivates and encourages your team to deliver consistently.

Let’s take a quick look at how employee motivation tools can help develop an efficient rewards mechanism in your organization.

Using Employee Motivating Tools to Develop Rewards Mechanism

When using employee monitoring tools — such as Worktime or Hubstaff — you can get insight into individual and team productivity. 

These insights will show people that go above and beyond in some way so you can recognize their efforts. However, do not forget to reward remote employees that show balanced productivity across the different categories. This helps ensure you have a balanced work culture that promotes healthy competition between remote employees. 

These tools also offer insight into performance so you can identify any stranglers, poor usage, and how to support people to improve performance and engagement within your organization. In fact, tools like Pattyrn give you tips and insights from workplace productivity experts to promote digital adoption, employee engagement and your bottom line. 

Pro tip: Pay extra attention to your team and their usage metrics to monitor and help individuals avoid burnout and turnover. Make sure each remote team has a blend of stranglers and champions to help boost productivity to share individual achievements of stranglers to help encourage them.

Don’t Monitor, Motivate

Do not institute surveillance tools that feel invasive or encourage your workforce to take ‘shortcuts’ in order to seem productive in remote environments. Tools that invade your privacy or make employees feel they’re not trusted will only spur paranoia and can break trust within your organization.

Instead, use motivational workforce tools — such as Pattyrn — that aggregate usage analytics and patterns to deliver improvement suggestions that impact both employee experience and your bottom line. By avoiding surveillance tools and opting for tools that aim to boost employee engagement, you can build trust by motivating remote workers rather than invading their privacy.

Team Communication Tools

Once you have the right monitoring tools in place, communication is the next critical step to improve remote employee collaboration. 

Team communication messaging apps like Skype, or Intranet tools like Beezy, ensure you stay in touch with team members through direct chats. 

Interestingly, these tools let you categorize and separate chat channels to suit your needs. Here are different ways you can use team communication tools for remote team building.

Create Dedicated Channels for Non-Work Related Activities

Use communication tools such as Flock, Chanty, and Slack to create non-work-related channels.

These channels serve as collaborative spaces that allow your remote employees to socialize with one another and feel like part of the team. Interesting channel topics include family life, pets, hobbies, and so much more.

Provide Mentoring Groups

What are some development or learning goals that your remote employees have outside of work? The answer to this question will help you pair employees — with similar goals — into a dedicated channel. 

You can then assign a mentor in each group to help motivate the employees. Mentors get to share ideas, post queries, and share progress to encourage and invest in talent development and networking. 

Encourage Leadership Engagement

Non-work discussions should not be limited to remote employees only. Instead, ensure that in-office employees and company leaders also participate in these groups to help create bonds with team members. 

Making sure everyone has the opportunity to engage with mentors and non-work-related channels can help build a collaborative and empathetic work environment where people can be themselves. 

Web Conferencing Tools

Thanks to recent technological improvements, remote workers can engage with each other through video calls. Web conferencing tools allow your teams to connect and work together in real-time by providing file sharing, messaging and screen sharing capabilities at the same time. 

Aside from using these tools for work-related meetings, you can use them for the following bonding activities:

Virtual Employee Workout Sessions

Working from home comes with several challenges, including maintaining a healthy lifestyle. 

Therefore, leverage web conferencing tools to create virtual workout sessions to help reduce employee burnout. From yoga sessions to High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) classes, using conferencing tools can be a fun activity that will help foster deeper relationships. 

Set Up Coffee Breaks

Use web conferencing tools — such as Google Meet, Zoom, and Skype — to design virtual coffee breaks with your remote employees.

tools-for-remote-collaboration

When you do this, make sure you consider how frequently to do this and evaluate what works best for each employee. You can always spice things up with an after-work happy hour event, and providing water cooler breaks for remote workers reignites the human connection and conversations. 

Project Management Tools

Safeguarding your bottom line starts with avoiding budget overrun and ensuring timely delivery. 

You can do this with project management to ensure you stay on top of every task and project within your organization. However, these tools can also help increase remote employee engagement when you: 

Design Fun Projects

Tools such as MeisterTask and Asana can help you create out-of-the-box, creative projects for your remote employees. 

However, it will help to include different team members in each group to encourage inter-team collaboration. Examples of fun projects include photograph sharing, cycling, and workout challenges.

Assign Surprise Tasks

The first step to assigning surprise tasks to employees starts with knowing their interest areas. You can use survey results to assign different non-work surprise tasks to your remote employees. For example, assign a nature photography task to employees who enjoy the outdoors.

If you do this, make sure your employees know it’s optional. Employees already overworked may feel extra burdened by something that’s intended to be enjoyable and engaging.

Promoting collaboration in remote offices takes time

Keeping your remote teams engaged can seem like an uphill battle without the proper approach or guidance. Start working these tips into your existing employee culture and company objectives, listen to feedback, and make improvements. 

To build a more trusting, collaborative, and fully engaged remote work environment, check out our blog today to learn how to use virtual team management software to guarantee remote worker engagement.

About Pattyrn 

Pattyrn identifies trends across multiple platforms – email, calendars, tasks, video conferencing, workflow management – and benchmarks the combined results so each team member can learn to grow as individuals, as leaders, and in comparison to their peers in the marketplace overall. Empower your team to reach its full potential and accelerate human transformation with Pattyrn.

Together, everyone can deliver their greatest impact. 

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