Do you own a business where you rely on your remote teams to be productive, efficient, and organized? Remote teams have become the norm nowadays, with so many companies now realizing the many benefits this type of setup offers. You can save money on rent since you don't have as many bodies in the office, productivity and performance are often enhanced when staff are remote, their location doesn't have to act as a limiting factor, remote workers tend to stick around, and they are often happier employees.
But for all the benefits, remote teams can still have their challenges. Collaboration among the team can be difficult when they are scattered and not in the same room to bounce ideas off each other. If this is an issue you are running into, here are five tips for better brainstorming in remote teams.
Use Online Brainstorming Tools
The next tip is to take advantage of the high-tech online brainstorming tools that are available. These are meant to make the team feel as though they are collaborating in the same room. Because ideas and content can be shared in real-time, it makes for a very efficient solution. You can even layout ideas on a virtual whiteboard, complete with sticky notes, images, attached documents, different categories, or streams, logs, and more. The whole idea is that you take that idea from its initial concept, put it in motion with the plan, and track the progress until it is completed.
Because everyone has access to these digital brainstorming tools, it allows for collaboration at all stages of the task or project. It also means managers can easily check on progress and quickly identify where the remote teams may need a little help or attention.
Set a Weekly Brainstorming Session
One of the best parts about remote teams is that people can work at their own pace as long as they are getting their tasks done. But the problem with that is there can be a disconnect with everyone working on an individual basis rather than as a team.
A simple solution is to schedule weekly brainstorming sessions where all team members must attend. These can be done virtually through a video chat/meeting platform or you may prefer to have the team meet in person weekly. It depends on the needs of the business, if you have the space for everyone to meet in person, and if it's something that team has agreed to in advance.
Keep in mind if you choose to keep the weekly session remote, it can still be highly productive. The idea is that everyone is focused on the same task at the same time, and in this case, it's brainstorming.
Keep the Topic of the Session Narrow
Sometimes the problem isn't a lack of ideas flowing from the team, rather, there is a lack of focus. The focus and topic of the brainstorming session must stay narrow and precise. If you have a lot to cover, then you'll need to do so over multiple sessions. Keeping the focus narrow allows for the best and most creative ideas to flow. It also helps to keep the session on track and not veer off-course.
For this tip to work, you'll need to let the team know in advance what the topic of brainstorming will be. This allows them to prepare in advance, adding even more value to the session.
Share the Purpose of the Brainstorming Session
Brainstorming can also be more precise and productive when the goal of the session is shared. Let employees know what you hope to get out of this session. What do you hope to achieve, what are the goals? Why is this session so important right now, is there a deadline that needs to be met? Perhaps you have a new client that you want to impress or maybe it's an existing client that has been feeling unhappy and you need to come up with ideas that will win them over once again.
You May Not Want Everyone In On the Same Session
If you've ever conducted a virtual brainstorming session, then you know how crazy it can get. People can start talking over each other, microphones cut in and out, there can be a lag in video and other such issues. All of these can end up detracting from the focus and the results of the session.
Many business owners find it can be more productive to hold smaller breakout sessions with a few team members at a time. This allows for everyone to communicate clearly, work collaboratively, bounce ideas off each other, and develop thoughts before moving on to the next item on the agenda. Just try holding a couple of these small sessions and you'll likely see the difference right away.
The downside is that these will prove to be more time-consuming, especially if you plan on sitting in on each session but the results can be well worth it. Maybe you can get away with holding the session less often since the content coming out of them will be high-quality.
Drastically Improve the Brainstorming Sessions
If you've been left underwhelmed with the ideas and visions that come out of the brainstorming sessions with your remote teams and you're wondering what you can do to improve, each of these tips can certainly bring about better results. It may also be that you need to use a few of these in conjunction with each other for maximum benefits.