Cross company collaboration in a remote working world

Author: Véronique Skelsey, Liqueo Ways of Working Agile Coach


Even before the pandemic, companies were beginning to utilise distributed teams and cross-company collaboration, but now, with remote employees, companies are using cross-company collaboration as a matter of course. Businesses are hiring employees around the globe to bring an array of expertise to the table. However, although a remote, distributed teams model has benefits, it also comes with challenges. 

Let’s look at the challenges that are faced with cross-company collaboration and the techniques and tools that can help address those challenges. 

What’s the new normal? 

As we start to see lockdowns and restrictions lifting and the results of the coronavirus, we can't help but wonder about the new normal. What does normal look like now for companies with cross-company collaboration and remote working? Many employees have been eager to return to the office after working remotely for so long, while others are dreading going back. 

Business owners have the task of deciding if their employees will continue working remotely or if it’s in their company’s best interest to go back to the office. For some, working from home has been viewed as a standard requirement and for others, it’s been a perk. Only time will tell whether working remotely has been a temporary result of the coronavirus or if it will continue. 

What challenges are created by a remote or distributed model? 

When people work together in the same space, communication often has an organic quality. It’s easy to walk over to someone’s desk and ask them a question or pick up important information while making coffee in the kitchen. When people work remotely, communication has to be more organised and diarised. 

For large collaboration sessions, such as planning workshops, training, project and product retrospectives, or team building, it is effective to have everyone in a room together. When people are working remotely, collaboration and sharing ideas becomes more difficult.

Technology bridges the gap caused by distance and lack of face-to-face communication.

There are also some things that you can do to ensure that remote collaboration is as effective as possible.

Collaboration best practice

First, some basics. When organising and running a collaborative session, whether remote or face-to-face, there are some things that you can do to make sure that people feel that it is productive and ensure it meets its objective.

Before you book a meeting there are some things to consider:

  • Is the meeting really necessary or could the outcome be accomplished by email or instant messenger? 

  • Is the meeting a one-off, part of a short series, or regular?

  • Have you invited the right people? Who has the skills, knowledge, and authority to provide input or solve the problem?

  • Have you checked the time-zones of the invitees? Is the meeting within reasonable working hours?

  • Have you checked the availability of the invitees? Find a free slot in everyone’s calendars if possible. If this isn’t possible, discuss conflicts with the relevant people if you want them to attend, to either find a suitable slot or offer them the opportunity to send a delegate if appropriate.

When creating the invitation, make sure everyone knows the purpose of the meeting:

  • Include an agenda (with timeslots if appropriate) in the invitation

  • Include a meeting objective

  • Include contextual information if relevant

  • Include links to content or to tools that will be used during the meeting (e.g. Miro board, Jira board etc)

When facilitating the meeting:

  • Follow the agenda and timeslots to have the best chance of completing the meeting objective

  • Use a “Parking Lot” for items that people are passionate about but are off-topic for the session. These can be addressed in a separate session if the group feels it is appropriate

  • Make sure everyone gets heard. Manage conflict

  • Ensure action items are identified (called out). Agree and assign action owners and timescales for updates

Rules for attendees:

  • Respond to the meeting invitation

  • Be on time

  • Pay attention

  • Be willing to speak up and willing to listen quietly

  • Treat other people’s contributions with respect

  • Be positive and energetic

  • Take initiative

  • Take responsibility and ownership, including owning your mistakes

After the meeting:

  • Send attendees the decisions and outcomes of the meeting 

  • Outline the next steps

Tips to get the most from remote collaboration

  • If a session is interactive (as opposed to a company update or presentation), ask people to keep their cameras on. It means that you can see their expressions, and makes it less likely that they will get distracted or try to multi-task when they should be focused on participating in the session.

  • Try and avoid running a session where some people are together in a room and others are dialling in. Aside from the technical problems that these set-ups often face, it also creates a sense of exclusion for the people who are remote, and their contribution will be affected. 

  • Set an agenda and keep to it. People are busy, and it’s hard to keep people engaged remotely for long periods. Respect their time and keep the meeting focused and productive.

  • Remote meetings can feel very long. Make sure that you include enough interaction to keep people engaged, including activities using virtual whiteboards or breakout rooms, or simply asking people questions and allowing them to share.

What tools are available? 

Fortunately, there are a variety of online resources available that you can use to help you overcome the difficulties of cross-company communication and collaboration. These tools have been used more than ever during the pandemic. 

Communication tools

Communication tools help employees connect with each other, individually and in groups, to ask questions, share information, and meet together. Here are a few of our favourite collaboration tools

Slack – a simple tool for sharing instant messages. 

Zoom – provides video conferencing for meetings and webinars, with integrated chat and breakout-room functionality. Zoom offers integration with a wide range of applications, such as Google’s GSuite and Salesforce.

Microsoft Teams – video conferencing for meetings and webinars, with integrated chat and breakout-room functionality. Part of the Microsoft suite of products, therefore integrated with SharePoint and OneDrive file storage, Outlook and Yammer.

Collaboration tools

Collaboration tools help people work together to plan, design, solve problems, and track progress. Here are a few of our favourite collaboration tools:

Digital Whiteboard Tools

Miro & Mural – both offer a whiteboard tool which can be used by many participants at once for brainstorming, planning, and other visual collaboration activities. Miro has a greater number of external integrations and more features.

Planning and Tracking Tools

Trello & Jira - both are now owned by Atlassian. They visualise tasks in a board-style that teams use to track their progress and identify additional work. Trello is a simpler, less costly option, used primarily by individual teams to organise their work. Jira is used for more complex products and projects, with cross-team dependencies.

Toggl -  A shared company Gantt Chart, used to plan, map out dependencies and track progress towards goals. 

File Sharing and Collaborative Working Tools

These all work in essentially the same way, where files are hosted on the Cloud, and can shared with individuals or groups either for viewing or for collaborative editing. They differ in their integrations and some of the smaller features.


Microsoft OneDrive & Sharepoint

Google Drive & Google Docs/Sheets/Slides/Forms

Prototyping and Design Tools

These are tools that are used for designing user interfaces for web or applications. They make it easy to share designs for review by stakeholders or user groups, and can easily be shared and discussed with developers for implementation.



Survey and Validation Tools

These are some survey tools that are easy to use, and can help you to gauge team happiness, customer satisfaction, product evolution and any other data-gathering needs.


Microsoft Forms


Get in touch 

Here at Liqueo, we provide organisations with the skills to implement programmes successfully through our flexible workforce model, tailoring solutions for our clients’ strategic goals. We deliver an exceptional, bespoke service to every client via a dynamic and agile framework. If you are interested in how we can help you implement successful programmes or want more information about cross company collaborating, contact us.

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