You don’t need a peak oil crisis or to be in different countries to appreciate and embrace working virtually. With more and more people volunteering on line and choosing to give outside of traditional office hours knowing how to work together virtually can set your campaign up for success. Just as you would in real life make time to build relationships and get to know one another.
There are many tools you about that can help you in project management (eg Basecamp), scheduling a meeting (eg doodle), brainstorming ideas and organising thoughts (eg stormboard). Facetime, skype, google hangouts are everyday tools like instant messaging on various social media platforms to keep you in touch with each other if you are in similar time zones. Those of us working virtually all have our favourite tools so support one another … and there is a tip … choose tools that support one another … don’t forget even the most unsophisticated tool like a voice message to have in your working virtually tool kit.
Here are my personal favourites:
if you are in a similar time zone, organise a virtual coffee date via skype where you can have the conversation you might have when you meet down the corridor and having these catch ups on a regular basis
use doodle to find the best time for a meeting (virtual or face to face) this builds inclusion and helps foster a sense of equity
encourage everyone on the team once a week to provide a set of ‘dot points’ of actions taken so everyone gets a snapshot of the accumulated work and shared by the leader of the team with a message for the week noting success and forecasting a positive foundation for the week ahead
use a central calendar and follow up with messages of support on matters you aren’t involved in e.g a text message, an email or something similar
establish a closed group on Facebook to share personal photos of you working on the project and/or sharing inspirational quotes to support each other
Communicate what is going to happen, what is happening, what happened and what is going to happen next and then start all over again. Communication in virtual teams (like all teams) work well when sine wave creating a smooth repetitive oscillating patterns.
The sine curve has a whole lot of features we can apply to communication – amplitude, frequency, rate of change and phases. In virtual teams finding ways of keeping the space between the stages of the work flowing and balanced is more important than in face to face teams, where you might pick up the little speed humps you might by having those bumping into one another in the corridor.
Are you working in a virtual team? What are your best tips? We’d love to hear from you.
Moira once managed a virtual team in five time zones in USA, UK, Australia and Italy for a fewyears and still works virtually with paid, volunteer staff and teams including StartSomeGood.