Building a sense of belonging among globally dispersed teams is essential to real-time collaboration.
Michael Tomasello, the author of “Why We Cooperate”, found through a series of tests that children from a very early age try to help others in ways young chimps rarely do. All of humanity’s achievements hinge on this biological urge to collaborate. But while we are driven by an innate need to cooperate, we can be very picky about who we cooperate with.
A sense of belonging is vital to the collaborative process. With the advent of the World Wide Web and the rise of geographically dispersed teams, it has never been more difficult to build a team-like environment. But thankfully necessity is the mother of invention, so there are now plenty of apps on the market designed to help managers give each of their employees a sense of belonging, even if they happen to be in Timbuktu.
- Organize Together.
Allowing every member of your team the chance to add their two cents to the company’s to-do list will keep them in the driver’s seat of their own destiny. Building a master to-do list will also generate interest in what other branches of the company are up to, in turn building a mutual respect for the individual roles each member of the organization plays. Give an app like Trello a try.
- Store passwords in one secure place.
As more and more companies move online, passwords are becoming as essential as they are plentiful. It is entirely plausible that your office in New York could require the same password your team in Hong Kong needs. To save your employees the endless (and less than secure) swapping of passwords, try an app like 1Password. 1Password is a password manager that keeps an inventory of relevant passwords that can be easily shared with those who need them, regardless of physical distance.
- Share in the Daily Grind.
TED Talk perennial Dan Pink claims there are three things that are essential to motivation: Autonomy, mastery and a sense of purpose. An app like iDoneThis addresses all three of these needs for teams that don’t necessarily share the same space. iDoneThis automatically emails each member of the team at the end of his or her day and asks, “What did you get done today?”. Each member of the team responds and the app creates a digest of each accomplishment. This addresses the need for autonomy by celebrating the efforts of the individual. It also allows the team to chart their improvement or mastery, and it reaffirms the team’s sense of purpose as they watch themselves inch closer and closer to their ultimate goal. This is essential for those frustrating days when the end of a massive project seems to be nowhere in sight.
- Celebrate Together.
Many managers make the mistake of only checking in with the team when something has gone wrong. It is essential to pop in with good news, or just for a friendly Hello. Always keep an open line of communication. Take any opportunity to celebrate, no matter how seemingly insignificant the achievement. Choose an appropriate time (using the Every Time Zone app) that every branch of your team can enjoy a little fun. Have pizzas or a cake delivered to each office and set up a live video feed using the new FreeConference.com – coming soon, so you can all party in real time. Visual communication, impromptu face-to-face time and celebration are essential to building a close-knit team.
- Encourage Silliness.
Creating emotional bonds between co-workers not only stimulates collaboration, it also helps you retain top talent. Believe it or not, money is not our primary motivator. If members of your staff like each other, they are more likely to stay put. A sense of belonging will always be more important than a raise. Apps like HipChat not only allow your team to seamlessly engage in real-time collaboration, but they also provide a place where team members can crack jokes and share cat memes. Never underestimate the team-building power of a good inside joke.