Be it in the office or working remotely, teams and employees usually work in silos. Most of the time it’s not even conscious. Working in silos is indeed a natural tendency. Teams tend to communicate between their own team members, but they don’t do so often or effectively with other teams.
The classic clashes between marketing and sales come to mind?
It’s easy to avoid working in silos when they coexist in the same office space. But not so much when you work remotely and cities, states, or even countries can be separated from each other.
Teams working in opaque silos cause process and delivery bottlenecks. Working in silos naturally leads to inefficiencies in the optimal use of resources. Mind you, if you, or a small or medium-sized company, are already working with fewer resources than really needed. Inefficient use of these limited resources will only make it worse.
Silos are notorious for affecting productivity
That’s obvious, isn’t it? If all teams in the company aren’t on the same page and not coordinating effectively, overall productivity is sure to be a hit. A company is only successful when all of the teams that make it up can work together efficiently.
When working in silos becomes the norm in an organization, coherent communication practices immediately decline. Put simply, silos make cross-departmental communication difficult. The lack of proper communication between teams causes an area of your business operations to inadvertently suffer.
Silos also hinder the positive work environment that you want to build in your company. A great work environment is just as important to most employees these days as their pay, performance, and growth opportunities.
This results in a breakdown of alignment with the business goals. And no company manager wants to see that. The work will be everywhere and the output will be work that doesn’t meet business goals.
To be honest, it should come as no surprise that this affects remote teams even more as it is inherently remote. Human separation has to creep in and make things harder when it comes to doing meaningful work.
Dismantling of workplace silos in a remote team
Since we absolutely agree that silos are harmful to a business, what can we do to avoid silos? How do we keep work silos at bay, especially in a remote work environment where they are all but built due to the nature of the work? Here is how.
Communicate and then communicate even more
Communication is the sledge hammer used to tear down the walls of the silo of a distant workplace. Communication leads to clarity and collaboration. And the collaboration does not create any silos at all.
Communication here can take many forms – via updates, progress, plans, or anything else. Clear communication starts at the top. It’s about establishing processes in which people are driven to collaborate.
Also, keep logs of the tools and platforms to be used for communication, expected response and turnaround times, and the information to be shared within and with other teams.
If we avoid information silos through communication, remote teams can work more efficiently.
Goal setting exercises should be done frequently and regularly
When we work alone, without physical interaction with our teammates, we sometimes forget about the goals we are supposed to be working towards. Too often you find remote workers who are more focused on day-to-day operations and lose sight of the bigger goals as a team and as an organization.
It is important to remind distant teams that we should all work together to achieve the goals. Regular meetings to discuss goals are required to align expectations and practices with the overall vision of the company.
Business leaders should make it their business to organize biweekly or monthly team visits to reinforce the goals. And then you help the teams match those goals with the work they have done so far and will do in the coming weeks.
This ensures that if a team or teammate deviates from the common goals that everyone is working towards, it is identified earlier and corrected immediately.
Promotion of work on joint projects
In a corporate environment, there are projects or tasks that are cross-domain. Typically, such projects involve at least two teams or more, depending on the type of work. It is important to actively promote such projects and to get the teams to work together.
Silos fall automatically when people from different teams have to work together to bring a project to completion. Information is exchanged more effectively when such projects require the combined effort of people from different teams. Through constant collaboration and sharing of ideas, relationships are built and strengthened in the workplace.
This also helps different teams understand each other’s work styles. In addition, each team gets an insight into how the other teams think and approach their work.
Transparency should be corporate culture, not just a catchphrase for executives
Many organizations work with the idea that teams only need to know enough to get their job done. It is always better that every employee is informed about all company-wide processes, messages and logs.
Let people know what is happening to each team so they know what is happening outside of their own bubble. This eliminates the idea of operating silos, as these are only built when everyone is up to date.
The ‘need for knowledge’ basis of work is a thing of the past. Remote working is all about transparency and collaboration. This creates a sense of accountability in everyone and avoids teams working together at work.
Collaboration becomes easier without silos. The execution of the work is also faster. Teams become much more willing to collaborate with other members of other teams. A remote workstation with no silos can become a productivity powerhouse that delivers day in and day out.