Virtual Team Tools
Browse our collection of Virtual Team Tools – discover new ways of bringing your virtual team together
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.
Virtual Team Ice-breaker Games
It’s the first time you’re bringing your virtual team together. You’re gathering your team of experts from various locations all over the world. It’s the start of a brand new project and you want to help your virtual team have a sense of unity. You’ve got John from Australia, Rishis from India, Ryan and Cassandra in the US all waiting in the online meeting room. How do you help this team really “gel”? As a virtual team leader, how do you direct your team to have that real sense of “teamwork” even though they may never meet face-to-face? What virtual team building activities can you introduce to ensure your team works creatively together towards a common goal?
Here are our top 3 virtual team building activities to ensure your team comes together as a truly united team from the very first day they meet online…
#1 The Virtual Team Honesty Game: Be honest with your virtual team about the special challenges they will face as a virtual team. Encourage discussion around this topic; invite ideas and possible solutions to the problems faced. Being honest about the typical challenges facing virtual teams and learning to trust in virtual teams is paramount to long-term virtual team success.
If you’re short on ideas, here are 3 Challenges your new virtual team will likely face:
- Individuals feeling isolated, rather than having a feeling of being connected with a common purpose
- Communication challenges associated with time zones, language and cultural differences
- Sharing, management and retention of information in the virtual team
#2 Virtual Team Ice-breakers: Having fun with your virtual team, and getting them to relax with each other is another important way to break-the-ice and get your virtual team members feeling connected. Virtual team games liven up meetings, break the ice, and improve communication and productivity
Get creative using social media, smartphones and other technology. It only takes 5 minutes to break-the-ice. We recommend – 50 Digital Team-Building Games.
This virtual team resource offers fun, energizing meeting openers, team activities, and group adventures for business meetings and teams. Using Twitter, GPS, Facebook, smartphones, and other technology, the games can be played virtually.
50 Digital Team-Building Games: Fast, Fun Meeting Openers, Group Activities and Adventures using Social Media, Smart Phones, GPS, Tablets, and More
#3 Virtual Team Personality Profiling Sessions: Personality profiling can be fun as well as highly beneficial to the virtual team leader as well as each member. Personality profiling will help the team to understand the unique way each person works and communicates. Discussing personality differences can be a fun journey of discovery, bringing the team together, while really impacting on the team in a positive way.
When you bring your virtual team together you need to make special consideration for the fact that your team do not have the advantage of meeting face-to-face. Without that face-to-face meeting you are faced with the unique challenges of a virtual team. The challenge of feeling connected, united and part of a real team. These challenges, with a little time and forethought can be overcome.
If you want to know how to conduct your own personality profiling session with your virtual team, click here to read our article “Easy Virtual Team Building Activity for Remote Teams” Continue reading
- 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
14 things you’ll need to work and travel – easy but essential!
I recently had an email from a friend who is planning to live in South America. Her plan is to work virtually and travel at the same time. This is what she said in her email … (personal details removed 😉
“I really need to do something where I can work online, one thing that scares me the most, is the technical set-up I’ll need. I know you guys are the go-to people for that. Can you help me? Jessica
Working virtually is one way you can enjoy the travel and work lifestyle. Sometimes referred to the “laptop lifestyle”. We recently headed off on another overseas adventure! We wanted to stay in touch with our team and clients so needed to make sure we had everything we needed to keep things running smoothly while we were away (sometimes in places with no internet access).
You could just pack-up the laptop and call it ready, but we do remember our first overseas trip and how unprepared we were. Taking the laptop was not enough and we wasted so much time finding solutions and keeping our projects and communications seamless. So save yourself the time and effort and learn from our experience traveling and working at the same time.
If you’re planning to work online and travel, here is an easy to use checklist to help you get into your work and travel lifestyle without the mistakes we made when we first started out.
#1 __Check the availability and quality of internet access in the countries you’re planning to visit. Pay particular attention to your accommodation and be sure you’ll have access to the internet from your room if necessary.
#2__Laptop + charger (and mobile devices) – long battery life is an added advantage
#3__High quality Earphones/microphone – you especially need these when you’re conferencing with clients or colleagues, or just need to drown out the bustling noise that some cities generate.
#4__International electrical adapter
#5__Email set-up – needs to be “seamless” so that your email files/systems are not affected. Set up like you’re logging in from your usual working office.
#6__ Access to your email history and address book
#7__ Back-up device to access internet where WIFI is not available
Here’s a list of 15 x handy desktop tools and online software solutions for remote virtual teams (many of them available for free). Use these tools to help your virtual team improve organisation, communication and performance.
#1 Online remote team collaboration software – keep the team communicating and together! http://www.centraldesktop.com/
#2 International time zones and meeting planner – an essential tool when planning an international virtual meeting http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html
#3 Automated Online appointment scheduling – will save you or your virtual assistant hours of time spent co-ordinating your diary across multiple time zones. http://www.timetrade.com/
#4 Create virtual training videos from your screen – great for capturing screen training with virtual team members http://www.techsmith.com/jing.html
#5 Meeting with your team and clients virtually. Make your virtual team meetings interactive and exciting. Share screens and talk face to face with the video conferencing facility. ShowMyPC Meetings and Remote Support
#6 Send large files to your clients and remote workers across the globe http://www.sendbigfiles.com/
#7 Calling Codes for every country in the world – http://www.countrycallingcodes.com/
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
In this Video following on from part II, John shows you an easy way to take your requirements list and use it to research the market, and then subsequently make a shortlist of suitable solutions available. This then will form the foundation to test the software or solution and rate it for your team.
If you use this process, you will save time in researching, you will save yourself headaches in trying to figure out what is the best fit, and lastly you will ensure the nearest fit to your requirements.
In this video John discusses the second part of the process in choosing The Right Tools For Your Virtual Team. Following on from Part 1 – making a requirements list, this video discusses turning it into a Research list to be used to research the right tools for your Virtual Team.
When we do a strategy meeting with someone to help them outsource or streamline – one of the easiest ways we find to fix major problems and obstacles in a business is to find the right technology tools.
It is also one of the biggest challenges solo-prenuers and online marketers face, especially if they are not good with computers and software.
I am here to tell you that the challenge is not the “technology” nor is it “the problem”. I am also here to tell you that it is easy to find the right solution for your needs – and YOU don’t need to be a tech-head.
That is why I am devoting the next few issues to showing you a really simple process to help define your needs, research a solution, and choose the best fit – whatever your problem or technology requirement.
This happens every day in business around the world. Someone is searching for a solution they “think” they need but have never actually brainstormed and written down the specifics of what they need. 100% of the people we meet with have never written a “specification” of what they want.
Now I know what you are going to say “I am not a techie”, “What would I know about a writing specification”, “This is above my head”.
By specification, I simply mean a list of specific needs
How do you think you would go finding your dream home if you told a real estate agent you wanted a 4 bedroom house with water views? You might get lucky but I don’t think so, I think you would be searching for years to find the exact house with the exact features you want.
The same applies to your business. You need to get specific and detail exactly what you need.
I have seen major deployments go wrong because they had a technical specification but not a “User specification”
So this is what I want you to do. Open a new word document and title it My Requirements
The next thing I want you to do is start typing, type what?
Type exactly what you want, don’t worry if you don’t think it exists, type exactly what you think would fix your problem.
Please note – if you have a team, have each and every member do this same exercise – you will be surprised at the great ideas they will come up with.
Here is a very simple example of a requirements list:
- I would like an way for my clients to automatically book an appointment with me
- I would like to select the days to make available for different types of appointments
- I want my VA emailed so she can set up a recorded phone call
- I want it to automatically update a calendar
- I want my iphone calendar updated also
- I want my client to fill out a questionnaire before my meeting
- I want to access the questionnaire in a central location before the meeting
Now this is a simple solution that would not even really need the process I am about to show you, but the principle still applies. Write it down, it does not matter how stupid or simple it sounds, write it down. Be as specific as possible, the more specific the more chance at finding what your require. A lot of people have the first thing they want to fix in mind, find a solution and pay money only to find down the track that solution can’t grow with them or does not even satisfy 50% of their requirements.
This process will help you get in mind the “Bigger Picture”, and gets your team to think about a “total solution”.
It will also lay the foundation for the next critical step in the process – Creating a Research Wishlist
So before I write the next article, you have some homework to do – get writing and get brainstorming with your team.
If you have any questions, leave them below in the comments, I would be happy to help.
Also, if you have had a good or bad experience, let our little community know, maybe there is something we can do to help.