Fostering Collaboration in a Time of Physical Distancing

November 30, 2020 | By: Molly Looman

As the new year approaches and some teams continue to operate from a distance, leaders must work harder than ever to foster collaboration. Working virtually can often lead people to feel isolated in their work and prevent teams from working together as they usually do. As teams and their locations change over the next few months, it will be important for leaders to keep a collaborative dynamic as a constant.

Creating Together

Amanda Madrid, associate director of asset services with Cushman & Wakefield, said that the available technology has been crucial in making sure her team stayed in a collaborative mindset. She said that being able to view documents or materials together and mark them up as a group allowed for everyone to have a platform for their thoughts and concerns even in a digital space.

“It forces us to be together even more because we have to make up for the physical contact we can’t have,” Madrid said.

Falling Behind

Madrid also stressed how difficult it is to be vigilant as a leader during this time. It is easier in a physically distanced landscape to fall away or feel isolated from the team. Madrid said it is the leader’s job to recognize when certain members of the team may be struggling and work with them to keep them engaged. She says work chats and face to face video meetings are great tools for making sure all team members are involved.

“The disconnect would be very very quick if we didn’t have this technology,” Madrid said.

Unlocking Creativity

As many organizations transition from crisis control mode to long-term thinking, it is important to try to reinstate the status quo of collaboration. For leaders, it is often tempting to try to complete tasks solo because it might be faster or, in a digital setting, too cumbersome to gather team members on a video chat. However, it is up to the leaders to push through that temptation and use the talented minds on their teams to problem solve.

“I don’t think you can do anything right now if you don’t have the collaboration of your team members,” Madrid said.

Beyond collaboration on work-related items, it is important to keep the team connected and informed during these times of uncertainty. Leaders should try to use the technology available to them to make sure they are scheduling non-work-related check-ins and face-to-face meetings with the team as a group. Leaders may also find non-digital ways to foster a collaborative team dynamic, perhaps with a secret gift exchange or pen pal system.

While sometimes it can feel like working on an island, remote or hybrid work environments do not have to operate in isolation. As the new year approaches, keep collaboration and team morale top of mind. Now that the sprint is over, the marathon work can take place.


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