5 Ways to work more effectively in a Virtual Team

When working remotely, it is paramount that you and your team arrange how you communicate and which mediums you will use to do so. Here are 5 things to think about when working with a virtual team.

 

1. Create Communication Guidelines- and stick to them

 Instant messaging lets you quickly get in touch with your teammates. You can check your coworkers’ status to see whether they’re available to chat online. Use IM in the way that suits the occasion and in a manner you have discussed and agreed upon with your team-mates. If instant messaging has been discussed and accepted as a medium through which to communicate, make sure your colleagues are aware of established communication guidelines and response time requirements, not only for instant messaging but for all other forms of communication too.

 

  • Use video chat to connect visually via webcam.
  • Multi-person chat to conduct a spontaneous online meeting.
  • If your company uses Microsoft Lync 2010, or you are wanting to deploy Lync Server, the new unified communications platform from Microsoft, you can make use of its powerful instant messaging features.

 

2. Use a virtual conference room for more formal online meetings

Web conferencing technologies are always improving, and these solutions make it easier to collaborate and brainstorm with other team members—regardless of where in the world they are. Everyone attending a virtual meeting will see the same information at the same time, as if they were gathered around one table. There are  whole host of web conferencing programs, such as those provided by WebEx, Citrix, and Microsoft. Microsoft Office Live Meeting enables you to share files, use digital whiteboards, and even record the meeting for posterity and revision purposes.

 

3. Share meeting information

When organizing meetings, the simplest way to keep your team members on the same page is to create a web-based, shared calendar that everyone can edit. Then you’ll know that everyone is looking at exactly the same schedule and can see any changes instantly. You can create a shared calendar in a variety of programs, including Windows Live Hotmail and Outlook.

 If you are using Outlook, you can further organize team meetings by setting up a Meeting Workspace—a website you can store all the information and materials you need for a meeting. Before your meeting, send an invitation to those attending and include a link to so your co-workers can see the agenda and find the pertinent documents. After the meeting, use the Meeting Workspace to publish the meeting results and track tasks.

 What you need to get going:

  • Learn how to share calendars with Windows Live Calendar.
  • Learn how to use Meeting Workspaces in Outlook.

 

 4. Collaborate on Documents remotely

If your organization has a Microsoft SharePoint site or an account on a SharePoint server, you can create a team site that allows your team to collaborate on material. You will be able to sync documents stored on your SharePoint site with those on your computer and your mobile phone. In fact, implementing Sharepoint sites that are deployed globally are somewhat a specialty of ours. We even carry out deployments remotely!

Your team can collaborate in real time, using Microsoft Office documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote). Edits and comments appear color coded by reviewer, and each edit is tagged with the date and time of the change, in addition to the reviewer’s initials.

You can accept or reject proposed changes, and when it’s time to distribute the document, you can accept all of the changes to make sure that no stray revision marks or comments remain in the document you plan to distribute.

If you don’t want wait for one person at a time to finish their edits, take advantage of the simultaneous editing (co-authoring) features in your collaborative technology. Google Docs, Citrix, and Microsoft are just a few of the companies that offer these solutions.

 

5. Set up a Team Website

Set up a website, or Team Communication Portal (TCP) for everyone on your team to share the materials you’re working on. If you haven’t deployed Sharepoint which serves as a great team website explore free services like Windows Live  that provides 25 gigabytes (GB) of password-protected online file storage, making it possible to store, access, and share files online with coworkers—from almost anywhere. This allows you to get your team to free their minds and interact with each other, rather than working in isolation on their individual projects.

What you need to get going:

  • A Windows Live ID, which you can use to get free online storage on SkyDrive.
  • Find out about SharePoint 2010 and talk to your IT department about using it in your organization.

Working and learning from a distance is becoming more and more commonplace. Telecommuting is not a less effective way of working- it is just a different way of working and as long as you follow these 5 steps, your team’s productivity doesn’t have to suffer as a result of the disconnect that can occur.

 

Indicia Training have been going strong for 6 years ( we celebrated our 6th birthday last month) by staying ahead of the curve and putting your learners first. If you’d like to get in touch for more advice or information on how we can bring more value to your training needs, drop us an e-mail at info@indiciatraining.com or call us on 0141 221 5676.