One of the best things about modern information technology is the ability to work anywhere at any time. As a result, teams can be made up of members who no longer work in the same place. It’s common today to have virtual teams comprised of members around the world as such approach has a wide range of benefits regarding hiring the most qualified employees in different areas of experience and cost savings.
However, the rise of virtual teams has also created a new challenge. How to help people who are geographically dispersed feel as they are connected similarly to the traditional team? It can be a problem, but you can bring up a feeling of connectedness within your virtual team by using these five essential tips.
Choose Communication Technology for Your Team
First of all, be sure to choose the best technology to support your team’s communication. That might include Skype, Facetime, various types of online collaboration software as well as email, telephone or most likely a combination of all this. Strive to use the most reliable and highest quality communication pipelines. To keep it simple I have categorized communication tools according to the purpose.
Communication Tools for Virtual Teams
- Collaboration tools. These tools will help you interact with your team through a central hub for sharing information (Slack, ActiveCollab, Spark).
- Meeting Tools are essential if you plan to conduct web conferences, webinars, or online meetings (ClickMeeting, iMeet, Adobe Connect).
- Project Management Software will help you to keep track of business processes through scheduling and task assignment (Smartsheet, Teamwork, Jira)
- Instant Messaging Tools (Skype, Jabber, Google Hangouts).
- Virtual Team Games. If you need to increase trust within your team, there is no better way to enhance communication than through online games (Prelude, VirtuWall).
Pay More Attention to Progress
Next, take more care than you would with a traditional team to keep people updated on their progress, the team’s progress and what’s going on in a company. It can be as simple as an email or recorded video, or a live video chat that allows you to help them see a purpose by being connected to the work of others.
Arrange Offline Meetings
Another vital tactic is to create opportunities to meet face-to-face. Dr. Lawrence Raymond explains that face-to-face interaction is essential especially if there is a lack of trust in the virtual teams. Of course, the teams are virtual for a reason, but in person, human connection is essential to building strong relationships. If you are lucky, you will find team meeting opportunity or possibly a business conference that allows you altogether discuss work and enjoy socializing. Even if the entire team can’t make it, just make it happen. Skype is great, but nothing is as much powerful as meeting in person.
Although offline meetings is an effective way to interact with your team, there is also a good way to develop a strong relationship and deliver the information to the virtual team members. Due to the webinars both traditional and online businesses have the opportunity to engage in shared learning with no need in traveling abroad and gathering your team. ClickMeeting is one of the webinar platforms that our company is currently using for brainstorming activities, online meetings, and web conferences. We have chosen it because it offers everything we need for interactive meetings starting from high-quality presentations to screen sharing and video chats with an instant translation. Simultaneous chat translation was incredibly useful for our meetings as we had participants from different countries.
Another webinar and conferencing service that offered our team a lot of control over the meeting was iMeet. Our company has been using it since 2014 as it provided high-quality audio and video as well as was perfect for spontaneous meetings so that we could use conference time effectively.
Get a Feedback from Your Team Members
Finally, embrace continuous learning by conducting an employee audit couple of times each year. The goal is to gather feedback from a team about how they feel they can function more effectively as a virtual team. After gathering the feedback choose the top 3 suggestions and do your very best to show your team that you are listening and trying to improve their ability to do their jobs effectively.
All in All
Due to globalization processes, virtual teams are here to stay, and they don’t have to be associated with the lower quality communication. By following these tips, you can boost your team’s productivity and help it stay connected and committed.