The Internet is the greatest tool at our disposal. It removes one of the big limiting factors for any industry- geographic location. This process of working from a location that is at a distance from your office or place of work is called “Remote Collaboration”. This applies to remote teams working on the same project, remote vendors providing services to customers, SaaS sales teams, etc.
Of course, this does not mean that we just use phone calls and text messages to work from home. Far from it in fact. Remote collaboration involves sophisticated software that allows us to effectively communicate with our fellow employees and employers who are situated away from us.
Large companies like HP, Whirlpool, etc, can use their resources and capabilities to draw on the benefits of virtual teams to increase their productivity and services to the customer. Meanwhile, SMEs can draw from the knowledge sharing and collaborative systems of virtual teams to integrate with their vendors, customers, and suppliers.
We can perform almost all major functions or job roles like R&D, sales, engineering, finance, logistics and HR in a virtual environment.
So why are we not utilizing remote collaboration to its fullest?
Well, there are many reasons. But in my experience, it has been primarily due to a lack of understanding, or a fear of adopting this new culture, or both. Like with any business venture, there will always be risks, but also rewards, and I do believe that in this case, the rewards outweigh the risks.
Maybe this article can help enlighten you on the topic of remote collaboration, and thus help you make a more informed decision on incorporating this new technology.
So without further ado, let us get right into it.
What are the advantages of remote collaboration?
- Without the need for travel to and back from a workplace every day, we can save money and time wasted on the commute.
- Energy spent on travel and formalities can be channeled into work. As a result, we will see an overall increase in productivity.
- The technology not only helps you be flexible with where you work but when and how you work as well. This lets employees work when they are most productive and thereby produce better work faster.
- Remote collaboration opens doors to teams distributed around the globe. Now, talent and manpower need not be restricted to one state, country, or even continent. A single company can have remote teams working on the same project from multiple countries.
- Remote outsourcing can be smoothly carried out with project management and real-time communication tools.
- With remote collaboration, healthcare providers and educators can operate without borders, and provide their services to anyone in the world.
- Lastly, customer support teams and sales teams can operate with greater ease and efficiency through remote collaboration.
What are the disadvantages of remote collaboration?
- Now here comes the challenges to remote collaboration.
- Most prominently, we will not have direct face-to-face communication with our co-workers. This will bring with it a host of obstacles concerning effective communication between team members as visual cues and tone are essential for us to communicate our intentions with clarity.
- Following from the previous point, remote teams will not have the relationship-building that happens naturally in an office environment. We need such interactions so as to develop good team-work. Thus we incur an additional overhead in project management to get remote teams to work together effectively.
- It is rare to see a single app being used for all remote collaboration purposes. Usually, we will need a set of different applications to perform different specific functions. Each of these tools will have their own cost and effort required for training teams to use them.
- When we have teams around the world, cultural differences can give rise to miscommunication. This, in turn, can lead to conflict within a team.
How can WebRTC help?
With an efficient implementation of WebRTC, we can overcome many of the drawbacks of remote collaboration.
Conferencing applications allow us to have simultaneous real-time high-quality video calls with as many of our co-workers as we want. These conferences can also be recorded automatically by the system for future reference.
Real-time whiteboard applications along with a conferencing platform bring us, all the benefits of an office meeting room without being present in the office.
A central data repository will allow all the information to be stored and accessed at any time. We won’t need to worry about outdated data as all information will be updated automatically. The data will also be secure with the administrators having full control over granting access rights to employees.
All the tools are available to us. All we have to do now is to utilize it.