The idea of telecommuting teams is the norm now. These days, many companies opt in on departments working remotely and on hiring outside contractors. Now add to that equation the fact that people no longer need to be in a traditional office to get work done and that many teams find it advantageous to work with the best teams from all corners of the country. There are clearly a lot of benefits in collaborative team work, but also a number of problems that both managers and employees of any generation must learn to adjust to with greater frequency. Common problems include time zone differences, lack of accountability and basic miscommunication problems that come with not being able to see or work from the same document. However, collaborative teamwork doesn’t have to be like pulling teeth. It can be a painless transaction that’s beneficial to all involved parties with these tips. 1. Assembling Your Team – You can thwart most problems by making sure they never happen in the first place. Do this by choosing your team carefully. You need team members with experience, ones you can trust to work on your side even when you’re not there. 2. Meeting Face to Face - Invest in web conferencing software to make sure you’re able to meet no matter where you are. You can also make use of clever apps to simultaneously work on a project. 3. Don’t Complicate the Process – I cannot stress this enough. The more people are involved the more mangers want to see some kind of progress sheet/report letting them know what’s been going on. That’s fine. What’s not fine is requiring every little detail to be included/updated, which only wastes valuable hours. You hired the right people; trust that they’ll do the job without you having to micromanage everything – you’re only going to be wasting everyone’s time. 4. Trust the Professionals – If you’ve assembled the right team then you know you’ve recruited people who excel in their field…and you have to step back and recognize that you don’t know that field as well as they do. This is often true for any team collaborations that involve graphic designers, engineers or data analysts. Their jobs are technical, and having to break it down to someone who lacks their level of experience or background education is only going to frustrate the project. 5. Invest in Email Communication – Emails are the fastest way to communicate and get the job done, so you should invest in email updates and communication as often as needed. Weekly reports and minor conference conversations can also be conducted via email. This is especially helpful if team members are traveling and/or in different time zones. 6. Set Goals – Setting goals is important for long-term projects. When setting goals, try and keep realistic goals in mind in order to not get discouraged about a project’s progress. 7. Establish Ranks – Every team member should know who to go to for what. There should always be a pecking order established. Make sure that when involving 3 or more separate teams that you’re not ending up with too many middlemen that cost the team time and effort playing telephone with any updates or questions. 8. Communication Management – The longer a project goes on, and the more teams/members that are involved, the more confusing it’s all likely to get. This means that along the way, critical team members who may have their attention diverted on other projects will easily forget what was agreed upon or what step the project was currently at. Avoid this by making sure someone plays secretary and keeps tabs on the conversations and agreements. This person should also send out a weekly project update highlighting where the team is at now, any prior benchmarks and anticipated goals. 9. Document Management – There will be a lot of documents going back and forth, whether it’s through mail, fax or electronic signatures. Make sure someone keeps all those documents together in one place. 10. Reward the Results – Team collaborations require a lot of hard work, a huge commitment that often exceeds time and effort spent working alone or even in one location. Make sure that milestones and successful yields are rewarded appropriately. Get together when possible, but offer public thanks, recommendations and gratitude where appropriate. If you’re lucky enough to have found a successful team, you’re going to want to use them again – so make sure you leave people wanting to work with you in the future.