What is the difference between teamwork and collaboration?

Teamwork happens when people work together toward achieving a common goal. The key difference between teamwork and collaboration is that while teamwork entails the individual efforts of team members to achieve a goal, collaboration involves a team of people sharing their ideas and skills, working together to achieve a common goal.

Why are teamwork and collaboration so important?

Teamwork and collaboration are both essential to a company’s success. Each team member has unique talents and skills. When these are shared for a common purpose, it can give a company a profound competitive advantage.

Research agrees that teamwork and collaboration bring these three benefits:

  • Working in a team encourages personal growth, increases job satisfaction and reduces stress.
  • People are more likely to take calculated risks that lead to innovation and creativity if they have the support of a team behind them.
  • Collaborative problem-solving leads to better outcomes.

Integrating VAs into your existing team

Integrating your new Virtual Assistant into your team seamlessly is all about being properly prepared for their arrival. Here are 5 tips for a making your new VA’s entry into the company worthwhile and welcoming:

  1. Prepare your existing team

It makes sense that bringing in a new personality with new attributes and capabilities will have an impact on the existing dynamic of the team. Communicate what the new person’s role is and provide information on their background and skillset to get the team excited for their arrival. Use the new person’s onboarding to introduce them and provide insights on each team member.

  1. Assign an orientation partner

Having someone appropriate to answer simple questions is a great way to make sure a new person settles in quickly. Then your new VA won’t have to feel spare about interrupting a colleague. A “buddy” can also provide insights that go beyond run-of-the-mill orientation and so should be both loyal and familiar with the company culture.

  1. Pre-set up protocols and procedures

Ensure you have things like an email address and logins ready – and that your new VA knows in advance what to expect when they get to work on their first day.

  1. Make onboarding a priority

Onboarding should be a priority in your new Virtual Assistant’s first few days of work – including introducing them to their colleagues – and followed by any systems training that is required.  If your company does not have a formal induction programme, ensure you have prepared training manuals and company information to assist your new team member throughout their startup period.

  1. Establish which are the best communication channels

You can help your new VA get to grips with which communication channels to use in different circumstances by creating a short and succinct internal communication process document that outlines the purpose of each communication tool and taking them through work in progress to bring them up to speed and illustrate how each of them are put to use. This will help them to be productive right from the get-go.

Strategies and tools for effective remote collaboration

Enabling remote team collaboration requires bearing in mind exactly what your remote workers are being asked to accomplish, workwise, and understanding the practicalities of connecting team members. Here are 3 strategies to engender collaboration in your remote team:

  • Make sure your communication is always clear

The worst culprit in derailing remote collaboration is a lack of clarity. If your team finds it difficult to collaborate on joint work, it may be because an assignment was briefed unclearly, or because getting together was difficult due to conflicting work schedules. (Or your busyness may have made you a bottleneck.) To avoid these hurdles set clear upfront project guidelines, communicate the project scope clearly and use online project management tool to make sure everyone has updated information and to track progress.

Prepare by asking yourself questions like:

  • What are the project goals?
  • What information does the team need to accomplish the task?
  • Where will this information be held?
  • By what metrics will you track progress?
  • What collection of remote collaboration tools can you provide to support them?

For example, give the teams access to your diary to see your availability. Or set up a shared calendar as to when they can contact colleagues for additional support. That way, they will feel comfortable seeking clarification when needed.

  • Make the most of video conferencing

Working remotely can easily alienate colleagues from each other. To overcome this, schedule regular team video updates to build camaraderie. Scheduling regular meetings will helps create a routine for the team. Regularly seeing each other means that they will be more likely to feel comfortable collaborating. Ensure the team knows they can always jump on spur-of-the-moment calls, much like they would pop in on a colleague at the office.

There are several platforms that can help:

  • Google Meet
  • Zoom
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Slack


  • Use a project management tool

Project management software is the key to eliminating roadblocks and completing crucial tasks on time and well. The best thing about them is they reduce the chances of tasks slipping between the cracks. Project management tools show at a glance who is doing what and what progress they have made. They have the useful facility to include detailed instructions and comments, and to upload pertinent documents under the umbrella of the project. So a team member with a question can easily find the information they need.

Collaboration thrives in a culture of trust

With remote work comes a need for trust. This means your measure of work well done will not be based on time management, rather it will be based on the quality of each team member’s well-timed output. After all, the key requirement is that ultimately a project is completed well and on time – and that your team works well together to make the project even better. If all is progressing smoothly, then there is no need to micromanage the team. Instead, focus on helping in problem areas. By investing time in helping your team members to improve, you help their development and show that you value them.