Making Remote Collaboration Easier When Teams Must Work From Home

03/19/2020

As organizations around the world adapt their working arrangements, keeping teams aligned through remote collaboration is more important than ever.

As communities around the world take precautions against the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, more and more businesses and organizations are instituting temporary, required work-from-home policies (we’re one of them). 

These policies protect employees as well as those in the community more susceptible to disease. At the same time, work-from-home policies can contain and slow the overall spread of the virus, preventing strain on the healthcare system.

While organizations of all shapes and sizes have embraced remote work to some degree in recent decades, social distancing, self-quarantines, and safety directives related to the virus mean that many companies are facing extended periods of having as much as 100 percent of their workforce at home 100 percent of the time.

This comes with a number of challenges that could disrupt productivity and workflow. Some systems that worked in person won’t; some processes that have been perfected for face-to-face meetings may no longer be possible or efficient.

At Submittable, we’re taking precautions, including moving to an all-remote team, and have a detailed response plan in place to ensure continued service—and we understand the need for tools that make remote collaboration and teamwork easier. As we begin implementing our own remote policies and processes, and as we see how our own customers are using our software for good, we realized that our software can help, both through its most popular functions as well as through some lesser-known use cases and features.

If you use Submittable already, or if you’re considering it, here are a few ways you may be able to utilize it more broadly to help you work hard and work smart, from wherever your team might be.

Get status updates and send surveys

Our software is best known for how easy it makes it for organizations to communicate with external submitters and applicants. But Submittable has a robust number of internal uses as well, especially when it comes to helping remote teams stay on the same wavelength.

Team leaders can create internal forms to send to their temporarily remote workforce to check in—allowing employees to give status updates quickly (and only share important information). Users can also attach files and ask questions, while administrators can easily translate what they learn into spreadsheets and share with the team.

A few more ideas for leveraging Submittable for internal use includes:

  • Collecting feedback from team members after (virtually) interviewing job candidates.
  • Ensuring quality control (for example, submitting photos of merchandise, displays, or machinery).
  • Fielding requests from other departments (from requests to equipment to requests for schedules to requests for product changes).
  • Conducting B2B communication about projects across teams. 

Help your community through corporate giving

The effects of the COVID-19 virus are expected to ripple outward as cases increase. People without sick leave, those who own or work at small, local businesses, and those in service industry are just a few groups that may face difficulties as the pandemic continues. Your community will need support, and you may be in the position to help.

And helping could include a wide range of ideas: helping college students who don’t have a place to go when they’re asked to leave campus, helping the surviving families of victims of Coronavirus, helping K-12 kids who can no longer depend on a school lunch each weekday. You could also raise money for nonprofits who are helping the cause, or offer a scholarship, fellowship, or one-time grant.

Submittable’s corporate giving platform can help these ideas from start to finish without any in-person meetings. You can create your guidelines and landing page, write a short application form, and then review your applications as a team online, no matter where everyone is located. This can all happen quickly—just minutes to spin up an application form—making you more responsive to needs as they arise, while also keeping requests and decision-making organized and out of your inbox. Here are a few examples of organizations using Submittable for COVID-19 giving

Host virtual events to avoid the crowds

As Coronavirus cases mount, so does the list of cancelled events, including conferences, festivals, concerts, shows, and panels. Even large meetings have gone out the window for safety reasons. While some events have been cancelled outright or postponed, others are jumping online and going virtual.

How do you organize a large virtual event with lots of moving parts if you haven’t before? While there are lots of options for where to host the event online, an event management platform like Submittable can help you organize a lot of the other details, from making a call for papers or speakers, to reviewing presentations, to collecting participant information and media. All communications about your virtual event can be conducted online: reviewers can discuss and score submissions, while administrators can email either with individuals or groups.

Virtual events can keep us connected even when we’re physically apart, and organizing them can be done remotely without much fuss.

Get reimbursements out quickly and efficiently 

As the virus has spread across the world, it has brought with it an understandable wave of cancellations: events, conferences, festivals, meetings, and residencies, just for starters. With these cancellations come a huge need to collect information and reimburse would-be attendees. Setting up a short form and then managing submissions on a central platform ensures that requests aren’t lost and that you can get money back to individuals as quickly as possible in this tough situation. 

Working remotely doesn’t mean working alone

Being physically isolated from your team comes with huge challenges, especially when in-person meetings are completely off the table. But remote collaboration is possible, especially if you utilize the right tools to connect and communicate.

The three ideas above are just a few of the ways you can use our software to make remote collaboration more effective—the possibilities include any project where you have to collect information or content and review it with a team.

And don’t be afraid to consider some fun ideas for team building; it doesn’t have to be all work focused. As we adjust to remote work, running a pet photo contest pitting your new at-home “coworkers” against each other for who’s cutest or letting coworkers submit their best idea or activity for entertaining children home from school can build camaraderie in a time of social separation.

We support social distancing and other safety measures

We believe that slowing the spread of COVID-19 must include social distancing and other strategies that require remote work. If you need support on your way to transitioning to remote work, whether you use our software or not, we are here to help. Contact our customer success team for more information.

Be patient. Stay safe. Work smart.

Sarah Aswell
Sarah Aswell

Sarah Aswell is an editor and content strategist at Submittable. She’s also a writer and stand-up comedian who gets rejected via Submittable all the time. You can read her comedy criticism at Forbes, follow her on Twitter, or learn more about her creative work on her website.