Shifting to virtual: 3 tips to foster and promote team collaboration

Sep 22, 2020 | Culture and Engagement, Leadership

Strong collaboration takes work and effort … it doesn’t just happen. We have seen the quickly changing landscape of our businesses and teams in the past few months amidst COVID-19, and with this comes an entirely different way of communicating and engaging with one another. This transformation has shed light on the importance of collaboration. Now that we have transitioned into this space of virtual teams, the approach to good team collaboration will undoubtedly look different and pose its fair share of challenges.


Our businesses and our industries are in a state of continual change; COVID-19 has accelerated change.  In our traditional set-up of face-to-face interactions, we have had to learn how to build team trust, rapport and connectivity in-person. But when our teams work virtually, we begin to feel isolated and disconnected. This is a common downfall I have heard from many, if not all, clients in the past few months.


With collaboration at the heart of high-performing teams these three tips will help to foster and promote collaboration within your companies and teams.


Tip 1: Build team rapport and trust.


Collaboration is not possible without establishing trust. If we want our team members to openly think, brainstorm and share ideas, with a strong sense of purpose to the team, we need to start with building trust.


  • Establish and frequently articulate the team’s purpose and goals, ensuring clarity and transparency around roles and responsibilities
  • Set a virtual kick-off session where you:
    • Introduce team members, welcoming newest additions to the team
    • Define and review roles and responsibilities, outlining each person’s contributions to the team’s purpose, goals and value
    • Establish lines of communication, providing a virtual tour of various communication tools and features
    • Create virtual communication norms and rules of engagement
    • Set recurring, regular team meetings
  • Emphasize individual and team accountability
    • Solicit feedback from team members and get them involved in decision making to continually improve the firm
      • What should we continue doing?
      • What should we stop doing?
      • What should we start doing?
    • Ask each team member to report out on their projects and deliverables, stressing the importance of accountability at an individual and team level


Tip 2: Create personal connections.


Whether onboarding or to maintain personal connectivity within and between your team members, create opportunities for your team to get to know each other.


  • Inspire dialogue amongst your team members
    • Send out a daily or weekly conversation starter to encourage dialogue amongst team members
  • Embed team building activities into meetings


Tip 3: Bring people together.



Building team connections, synergy and rapport where team members engage in a level and depth of dialogue conducive to collaboration, innovation and building strong employee relationships is important and requires effort.


  • Encourage casual conversations by organizing informal events for your team
    • Set up virtual … hangouts, huddles, Q&As, coffee, lunch, water cooler get-togethers
    • Organize coffee and learns or lunch and learns to not only bring the team together, but also promote continual learning and growth opportunities
  • Meet regularly through video
    • Encourage team members to turn on their videos, allowing team members to connect with one another, mimicking real life face-to-face interactions


Collaboration has been transformed. With modern technologies and the uncertain times we’re facing with the pandemic, the way our teams collaborate has changed. Face-to-face interactions are now replaced with digital means such as video conferences and meetings. Adopting new strategies to build collaborative workplaces, increasing trust, engagement, productivity and performance is critical. After all, team collaboration is the cornerstone of good business practice and accounting firm success.


This article was originally written for The Canadian Accountant.



For more information on Upskill Consulting, visit our website at


Meet Sofia Arisheh – Principal and Lead Consultant:



Sofia Arisheh is a human resources (HR) and people strategist, leader, advocate, and educator. She draws from her extensive experience in various sectors and industries to help companies build and strengthen their leadership execution, adopting a people-centric approach to business. Her focus is to help leaders think, act, and operate in a people-first culture. Sofia helps companies bridge their HR strategy with their business strategy, always building a stronger focus on people practices that translate into better business results.

Key areas of expertise:

  • HR compliance: Provincially and federally regulated companies
  • HR audits
  • Training and capability development: Design and delivery
  • Succession planning
  • Performance management
  • Employee engagement
  • Change management
  • Communication planning/roll-outs
  • Policy and handbook development
  • Employee relations
  • Job analysis and descriptions
  • Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI) accredited and licensed practitioner


Email: [email protected]

Sofia Arisheh

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