- Newly remote teams provide special challenges for managers that can be solved with the right tools and techniques.
- Iterative development provides a clear framework that helps teams develop effective solutions with less difficulty.
- Choose technology that supports effective brainstorming among remote teams to ideate solutions.
Since the pandemic hit in 2020, working remotely to ensure everyone’s health and safety has become the new normal for teams at many companies. This presents a new set of challenges for managers and corporate leaders as a new way to foster problem-solving in teams must be created. With the right tools in place, however, any firm can help their employees collaborate to create solutions that profit both their clients and the business in general.
Managing a Remote Workforce
The first thing leaders need to consider is how best to manage a remote workforce when collaborating on projects. Working together to design something new, improve something old, or just innovating new solutions requires effective communication tools. It’s critical that these tools help people work together, understand each other, and bring clarity to the task at hand.
Team leaders need to address potential remote work problems that can arise beforehand. Some ways to promote effective engagement over a distance include:
- Being mindful of differing time zones for staff members, ensuring that the entire team can schedule meetings regularly.
- Reducing stress for team members by using tools that encourage communication and consistency.
- Building team cohesion by finding creative ways for members to socialize, such as remote team building activities.
These problem-solving tools can help workers feel empowered as well. When everyone has the freedom to contribute ideas and evaluate possible solutions, creativity flows, and productivity rises. To ensure this process flows smoothly, managers need to provide their remote teams with a framework.
Frameworks for Problem Solving
A first step to promoting contribution is by establishing a framework for problem-solving. One tool that you can use is iterative development. Because any problem can have multiple solutions, discovering the best answer for your company requires a lot of work.
Iterative development helps you do that while minimizing testing and work. It provides a framework that allows your staff to ideate many solutions, then tweak them until only a few solutions are left by the final testing stage. The 5 steps include:
- Define the challenges by brainstorming possible solutions.
- Design a way to show examples of the solutions.
- Refine the process by getting everyone’s feedback.
- Create prototypes for the final solutions (2-3).
- Test these solutions.
To help your team with this process, review each initial solution to find out if it’s realistic to deploy, whether it’s worth the investment, and how it benefits the company and your customers.
This type of problem-solving system requires a great deal of team input, providing multiple opportunities for team members to contribute.
Tools for Connectivity
A framework like this keeps your team focused and organized but requires effective tools. When employees are under the gun to solve problems on a tight deadline, brainstorming sessions can be hectic, especially for remote workers.
Proper communications tools help reduce this stress by organizing the chaos. You can achieve this by improving brainstorming meetings in key ways:
- Assign someone who understands the complexity of the problem to facilitate the session. For example, if you are designing a software solution, a software developer with project management skills might be an ideal choice.
- Make sure the team you bring together has a broad range of experience and perspectives as well as a stake in the project.
- Help people get involved with the session with an icebreaker activity. Then encourage ideas to flow freely until certain ideas break ahead.
Here are three tools that you can use to promote teamwork for problem-solving projects:
To manage brainstorming sessions, consider using a virtual whiteboard. This will easily allow collaboration among your remote team. Digital sticky notes and color-coding options help them to organize ideas in a way that’s clear for all participants. This solution also allows your team to work in real-time.
Other options a digital whiteboard system can provide include a flexible range of layout options and integration with other systems. For example, integrating with project management tools can quickly translate your final solutions into milestones and timelines for testing.
Mind mapping may be the simplest way to create a baseline of solutions for iterative development. Because it is a visual element, mind mapping can help team members better retain what they are seeing during the meeting. Additionally, research shows that one of the benefits of mind mapping is improved productivity among workers.
You can use the problem you’re trying to solve as your central theme and work outward from there. Mind mapping is even more effective for creative brainstorming solutions when you put a few ground rules in place. Set a time limit, don’t edit or judge ideas as they are coming out, and help other team members to avoid multitasking during the session.
Connectivity and Security
To support seamless sessions, meet with your IT department to make sure you have the bandwidth and hardware necessary for virtual ideation sessions. Ensure that everything is updated, performing optimally and that your data is secure. This is a necessary investment to ensure that your meetings, your remote staff, and your business are all running smoothly.
When newly remote teams are required to bring solutions to the table on a tight deadline, managers and leaders need to find effective ways to bring the best out of these teams. Manage your team so that they feel comfortable partnering together. Innovate yet simple solutions help to flawlessly provide a remote work atmosphere.
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