Virtual team collaboration tips, tools and technology.
Have some fun with your virtual remote teams while helping them to develop better problem solving skills with this lateral thinking virtual team building activity. Note: This virtual team building activity can be adapted to the size of your virtual team, the amount of time you have available and the location of your various remote workers.
When preparing for the team building activity, consider these questions presented by Paul Sloane in his book The Leader’s Guide to Lateral Thinking Skills: Unlocking the Creativity and Innovation in You and Your Team. “How can you energize people to see problems not as obstacles to success but as opportunities for innovation? What practical techniques can you use in your everyday work to lead by example, to inspire and to motivate people around you to become more creative?”
Lateral Thinking Virtual Team Building Activity
- Select a suitable lateral thinking puzzle, challenge or problem for the virtual team to tackle. Paul Sloane, author of The Leader’s Guide to Lateral Thinking Skills: Unlocking the Creativity and Innovation in You and Your Team has some excellent lateral thinking puzzles along with the right advice on how to get the most out of the sessions with your team.
- Explain the purpose of the activity to the virtual team. You want this to be an opportunity for the team to interact together in a fun and creative way, while developing their lateral thinking skills. The ultimate goal is to help the virtual team to work together to achieve the very best solutions to problems as well as to achieve their goals in an inspiring and creative way.
Most virtual team workers I speak to dread showing up for virtual team meetings. Many remote workers are showing up for these meetings outside of usual work hours, perhaps taking time out from family and friends to meet with other team members across the globe. When they show up for these virtual meetings, they want to know that it’s not going to be a waste of their time. When they show up and the virtual team leader isn’t prepared for the meeting, when there is no direction or structure to the meeting and outcomes are never implemented – then pretty soon you’re going to have a very demotivated virtual team.
How do you keep your virtual team members showing up willingly and engaged in your virtual team meetings?
Planning and managing your virtual team meetings is absolutely imperative to your virtual team success. Tony Buzan, the creator of Mind Mapping shows how meetings can be managed using iMindMap to be more effective – saving time by helping team leaders reach decisions, record and implement team actions using colour and creativity.
Plan your virtual meeting agenda in advance
To keep your virtual team engaged and alert have your meeting agenda mapped out on screen. Get creative and use color coding to plan your agenda. By planning your agenda, you are giving your virtual meeting a clear focus, not only for yourself as the meeting leader, but for the attendees as well. With your agenda mapped out in front of you, it is more likely that your virtual meeting will stay on track (which can be a challenge for virtual teams meeting online from various locations all around the world). The radiant layout of a Mind Map gives you a pre-structured framework, allowing you to freely explore and capture your ideas without getting lost in the detail.
Keep your virtual team engaged in the meeting
There is nothing worse than showing up for a virtual meeting when the chairperson or virtual team leader is not motivated and prepared for the meeting. Remember, some of your virtual team workers may be linking in at very “ungodly” times due to timezone differences. You want all your virtual team members to want to show up for the virtual meeting, ready to contribute and ready to be engaged in the meeting. Make a Mind Map of what the meeting attendees need to prepare beforehand, and share it with them prior to the meeting. Mind Maps only include keywords, so the important ideas are conveyed and relevant associations occur instantly.
Keep track of implementation actions
During the virtual meeting, refer to the Mind Map agenda and simply build upon this to capture the minutes. This will give your meeting a solid framework you can refer to, to ensure that all points are covered. For every topic you discuss, add a branch for each action point to highlight what needs to be done to achieve the objective. Because of the radiating layout, you can keep adding details to your Mind Map without losing a coherent structure. Once you have added all of the details to your map, share it with the relevant parties to ensure that plans, decisions and actions are clearly communicated and acted upon.
To build a strong virtual team spirit and promote real teamwork amongst remote workers then virtual team leaders need to encourage regular virtual collaboration. Ultimately you want to use virtual collaboration tools to help each virtual team member develop a sense of identity to the virtual team as a collective. Virtual Collaboration need not be overly technical or consume too much time. It’s about bringing your remote workers together to build trust, develop relationships and promote creativity along with virtual team productivity.
Here are 5 virtual team collaboration tools you can use to keep your remote workers connected and working as a virtual team >>>
Virtual Collaboration Room to Facilitate Virtual Team Meetings
When managing virtual teams it is important that you have frequent communication with your virtual team members. Your virtual team meeting “room” or remote web desktop address becomes the place where your entire team working remotely can meet regularly. Establishing a regular virtual meeting time and place is an absolute must to encourage virtual collaboration and in affect build trust, creativity and relationships between team members of your virtual team.
Face-to-face Virtual Collaboration via Video Conferencing Tools
In the absence of regular real-world face-to-face meetings, your team should be using video conferencing to enhance connections and communication. When we communicate, much of what we say is all about what we don’t actually say with our lips. We speak through our facial expressions, gestures and body language. It is possible to work remotely with someone whom you’ve never seen, however if we want to improve connection and virtual team communication we must meet with each other face-to-face. Video conferencing allows for virtual collaboration face-to-face.
Mindmap collaboration for Virtual Teams
Big companies like IBM, BBC, Rolls Royce, Disney and Merrill Lynch are just some of the organisations already taking advantage of the creativity gained through Mind-mapping. Online mind mapping can be an excellent virtual collaboration tool. Tony Buzan, the inventor of mind mapping says “mind mapping help individuals think better and more creatively, and reach their full mental potential. Mind mapping can help virtual teams collaborate and get more creative as a cohesive group. Your remote workers can use mindmap collaboration to: plan, organize, create, present, problem solve, and communicate while having fun as a virtual team.
Virtual Collaboration Tools to Capture, Share and Retain Virtual Team Knowledge
One special challenge facing Virtual Teams is capturing the collective knowledge of each individual remote worker so that all members of the virtual team benefit as a combined group. In the typical work environment experiences, stories and new information is often shared between employees as they go about their day-to-day work routines. Virtual team leaders need to pay particular attention to capturing, sharing and retaining the knowledge of your team.
Knowledge can be captured by collaboration tools that will host and even more importantly, record your Virtual Team Meetings – audio and/or visual. You can also use web-platforms or online training software that will record your in-house training sessions.
Having a central document management and document sharing process in place is an absolute must collaboration tool for virtual teams. Without a document management and sharing system, remote workers are left to individually hold valuable documents and knowledge. This is a big no no for virtual teams. Without a central document management system you will lose time and money searching for documents and valuable knowledge held by your individual remote workers.
By using a variety of online virtual team collaboration tools, you can achieve regular connection with your remote workers. In turn, frequent virtual collaboration promotes a stronger virtual team. With regular virtual collaboration your remote workers identify with a highly organized and creative group working together towards one common goal.
Yes, virtual teams do face challenges, but by using the right virtual team collaboration tools, these challenges can be overcome successfully. Virtual teams can come together, have fun, get creative and achieve results.
Want to know more about virtual collaboration for remote teams? Click here to check out Virtual Team Building Games.
- Do you find yourself repeating the same information to different individuals?
- Is there confusion about who’s doing what in your virtual project? You talk to one person and they think the “other person” is doing it.
- Do you have trouble locating your documents, and then when you finally find what you want >> you’re not sure if it’s the latest version!
- Do you sometimes think you’ve told someone something, only to find out they don’t know what the heck you’re talking about!
- When a key player is no longer working with your online business, do you spend hours re-explaining your systems or retraining a replacement
Warning >>> your virtual business could be losing money, valuable information and paying thousands of dollars in unnecessary retraining and rework!!
In a virtual, online working environment there is a special need for the skills and on-going learnings of the organisation to be captured and retained. Especially when individuals are often working across different time zones.
Having information systems in place in ANY work environment is absolutely essential to the success and smooth operation of a business. In a typical work environment, people will see each other face-to-face, share information freely when they meet at the water cooler or when they head out together for a business lunch.
However, in a virtual work environment when you are not having that daily, face-to-face interaction, systems become even more important.
Your virtual team needs to have established systems and processes in place that will ensure when an individual team member discovers valuable information about her tasks, client information, areas for system improvement, changes to processes etc. – then other team members can be updated and informed regardless of what time, or what place they are working from.
Here’s 4 important ways to make sure you capture and retain information across your entire virtual team…
#1 Establish An Online “Real Time” Collaborative Information Portal For Your Team
There are hundreds of systems available online. Do your research – find a tool that suits your business size, style and structure. Take advantage of trial offers to make sure they work for your business . Continue reading
5 easy ideas to make your virtual meetings inspiring and productive
Virtual Teams, as wonderful as they are, present you with one very special challenge to overcome. Without a face-to-face social aspect of a typical work environment, you can lose the personal and visual connections that are so powerful in keeping a team motivated and performing at its best.
Like many online entrepreneurs you may be having weekly virtual meetings to keep connected with your team. Congratulations for committing to your virtual team productivity. Do you think your team is inspired and motivated by that virtual meeting? If yes, then great – but the sad truth is, it is quite likely that at least one person on your team likely DREADS having that meeting (that person could be you)!
So what can you do to make sure your virtual team meetings continue to inspire your virtual team to achieve great things? Here are 5 ideas you can start using right away… Continue reading
I have received other messages – “what is my password for…again?” – “do you have a copy of that document I sent you 6 months ago?”
Whether you are in an airport, hotel or at the beach, there is no reason for you to not be able to access your systems quickly. Of course internet connection is a must, however even if internet is limited, it should not stop you working offline.
Travelling, working virtually and running a team can be so great – we sometimes will find a friendly restaurant by the beach to enjoy an afternoon of work, snacks, wine and coffee.
If you do not have the right technology and systems in place, it can be a source of great anxiety. The good news is – this does not have to be hard or expensive.
Here is an outline of the areas you need to have in place… Continue reading