How to Facilitate Communication and Collaboration between Remote Teams

As the world becomes further globalized, the number of international workers and volunteers in humanitarian work (remote teams) is on the rise. As well, greater numbers of local personnel are becoming involved with humanitarian organizations. The goal is to have international and local teams work together on their mission. The challenge, however, is navigating work between two remotely located teams. Technology tools can help facilitate communication and collaboration between remote teams. When using such tools, it is important that a) necessary resources are available to all workers, b) workers receive digital literacy training, and c) that communication tools are centralized.

The Number of Remote Workers are Growing

In recent years, the number of remote workers around the world has increased dramatically. According to Buffer’s 2020 State of Work Report, 57% of those polled work from home 100% of the time. The increasing trend of remote workers has grown even more since the Covid-19 pandemic.

    The Benefits and Challenges of Working Remotely

    Remote working has shown its benefits and challenges. The three biggest benefits of working remotely indicated in the 2020 State of Work Report are the ability to have a flexible schedule (32%), flexibility to work from anywhere (26%), and not having to commute (21%). The three biggest struggles are collaboration and communication (20%), loneliness (20%), and not being able to unplug (18%). For international and local workers in remote settings, collaboration and communication is especially important but challenging.

    Technology Tools

    Technology tools can offer ways to create better collaboration and communication between remote workers. Internal communications software such as Slack and video conferencing software such as Zoom allow remote workers to connect. According to the Remote Work Report by Gitlab, the top three communication tools used by remote workers worldwide are video conferencing (63%), messaging and collaboration (55%), and phone and SMS (51%).

    While technology tools can be helpful, they are only as good as how they are used. When using technology tools, it is important that a) necessary resources are available, b) workers are digitally literate, and c) that the same communication tools are used between workers and teams.

    Required Resources

    Technology tools require resources. This includes smartphones, computers or laptops, security software, and routers with high-speed internet. To some peoples these resources may be easily accessible. However, others may not have any access to them at all. A digital divide exists not only between developed and developing countries but also within countries. On The Internet and the Pandemic survey conducted by PEW Research Center, it has been found that in the U.S., 60% of broadband users with lower incomes often or sometimes have connection problems, and 46% are worried at least some about paying for broadband. It is thus, important for organizations to equip workers with the resources and accommodations required to use technology tools.

    Digital Literacy

    According to the Virtual Teams Survey by Culture Wizard, only 22% of global respondents reported to have received formal training in virtual communication and 24% reported that their companies provide virtual team charters or guidelines. However, this knowledge support is incredibly important in bridging the gap in digital literacy. People with higher levels of digital literacy are more likely to use technology tools more effectively and efficiently, whereas people with low levels of digital literacy are more likely to be left out. Therefore, organizations need to invest more in conducting digital training to their workers.

    Standardized Communication Tools

    As much as technology offers many different tools to communicate, it also has risks for miscommunication. When multiple different communication tools are used by team members, it becomes difficult to track which tools are being used by whom. In the Remote Work Report produced by Gitlab, 37% of respondents indicated that they believe teams using different tools and services creates silos in the workplace. It is thus, important that communication tools are centralized between workers. Within the centralized communication tools, team members can voice their opinions, share updates, ask questions, and collaborate more effectively.


    Want to learn more about how Grey-box is helping bridge the global digital divide? Check out our product, UNI, a portable local hotspot that makes offline resources accessible


    Submit a Comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *