Working Effectively with Remote Teams Using SharePoint
One of the bigger shifts that have occurred in the modern workplace is the ability for team members to work remotely.
With the internet, cloud storage, email, chat and video conferencing, and collaborative project management software, it has become incredibly easy for team members to “log on” and get work done from anywhere in the world.
Remote working can be beneficial for employers and employees alike. Employers can reduce some overhead, minimize in-office distractions, and get access to a wider pool of talent.
For employees, they can reduce the cost of commuting to and from the office, freeing up time to pursue other passions. Remote workers often report higher productivity and a better work-life balance.
However, remote working is not without its challenges. The lack of in-person communication can lead to problems when it comes to team cohesion, shared vision, knowledge sharing, and general team engagement.
If these issues persist for too long in remote teams, it creates barriers to open communication and collaboration, resulting in less-than-successful projects.
So if you find yourself managing a remote team, how can you reduce these risks and help the team move work forward? Here are three ways you can use SharePoint to improve collaboration within a distributed team.
Working Effectively with Remote Teams Using SharePoint
1. Setup a Collaborative Team Site
The first thing you should do is set up a collaborative site in SharePoint for the project team.
These are important for any project team, but especially so when the team is not physically in the same office. One of the greatest strengths of SharePoint for project management is its flexibility, so it should not be too difficult to create a project site that meets your needs of your team.
The collaborative project site will become the focal point of your remote team, connecting them to each other and helping them work towards a shared outcome.
Use the team site to make sure everyone is aligned with the vision, goals, objectives, and processes being used to manage work within the remote team.
At a minimum, your collaborative project team site should share items like:
- Team/project goals and objectives
- Roles and responsibilities
- Any project plans and schedules
- Robust document management capabilities
- And dashboard reports, to check on project status, work status, issues, etc.
2. Team Dashboards to Track Individual and Team Progress
Your project team site should also provide a suite of dashboards that enable all members of the team to find their work and understand what else is happening on the project.
For example, BrightWork includes a series of “My Work” Reports for team members to manage their own tasks and track individual progress. The simple task management system also allows them to tick a box when there is an issue, immediately escalating that tasks to an issue flagged for the project manager.
The project management dashboards should also show how the overall project is progressing with reports containing live metrics, KPIs, project schedule, Gantt charts, and more.
When all team members can log in at any time and see the status of the project, they can more actively help out and share expertise when needed.
3. Facilitating Team Communication
One of the biggest challenges of distributed teams tends to be building relationships and getting to know teammates and colleagues. It is much easier in an office setting to chat at the “water cooler”, grab lunch with colleagues, or knock on an open office door to get the answer to a question.
It is not as simple as when you are working remotely. The SharePoint project sites are great to keep everyone on the page in terms of project performance.
If you need a bit quicker collaborations, recent group chat tools like Microsoft Teams make it very easy to quickly get in touch with colleagues, get the answers to questions and share information.
Want to bring all project information and communication into one place? Microsoft Teams integrates with a wide range of Microsoft, third-party apps, and website links. You can easily add a link to a project site to the relevant team by clicking on ‘Tabs’ ( + icon) in the relevant Team.
Microsoft Teams doesn’t have to be all work-related either. You could always set up a channel for “fun stuff” too, so team members get to know each other a little bit.
The idea is that it is easy as possible for remote workers to feel connected and be able to get in touch with colleagues when they need to.
Collaborate with the Free SharePoint Project Management Template
The free SharePoint Project Management Template from BrightWork is an easy way to boost team collaboration on SharePoint.
Using SharePoint lists and web parts to deliver project management essentials, the Free SharePoint Template will help you to work on the project using:
- ‘My Work’ reports
- Work report (for the project manager)
- Task List
- A project document repository
- Project issue list
- The project wiki.
The project homepage, which summarizes key updates and data from the reports on the site, shows key information such as:
- Status of the project, with details on project health and % complete.
- Metric Tiles, which displays the number of late tasks, estimated finish date, and the date of the most recent update to the site.
- Overdue Items, including due date and task owner.
The Free SharePoint Project Management Template will help your team to plan, act, and track the project together – regardless of location.