Technology and Virtual Teams: Keep It Together When You’re Miles Apart
Have you ever played the game “Telephone?” It’s where a group of people line up and the person on the one end whispers something to whoever’s next to them. That person then turns and whispers what they thought they heard to the next person in line, and so on. Whoever’s on the other end of the line then repeats what was last whispered to them…and it’s usually completely different from the original message.
Because everyone’s in their own space, it’s easy to end up with completely different ideas of where projects are.
This game is usually brought up as an example of how out-of-control gossip can be — but it also illustrates just how off-track virtual team members can get. Because everyone’s in their own space in their own homes, it’s easy for all involved to end up with completely different ideas of where projects are and what they’re responsible for.
The result? Well, a complete mess.
Well, here I am to help you untangle that mess before it even happens. How lucky are you?! Here are a few proven ways to keep everyone on the same page, even if none of you are in the same neighborhood.
Master Your Online Meeting Tools
It doesn’t really matter how you choose to connect online and which video conferencing system you and your coworkers decide to use—just make sure everyone uses the same one. More importantly, make sure everyone knows how to use it. You don’t want to spend 15 minutes at the start of every meeting trying to figure out the tech that’s involved. And you definitely don’t want to be the person shouting “Hello? Hello? HELLO?” into your mic.
Practice makes perfect. Encourage everyone to present at least twice a month, so each one of you knows how to use all the bells and whistles. At the very least, you should know how to record meetings, use rotating intro slides, do online polls and voting, mute everyone, manage breakout sessions and change participant views. If you use PowerPoint, everyone should know how to use presenter mode because you don’t want to share the wrong screen with all your secret notes showing (hint – it always defaults to the wrong screen!).
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Keep It All in the Cloud
Ready to welcome a nightmare into your home office? Here’s an easy way to do it: Store all your work information on your PC’s hard drive. Local storage of company data is not only a security risk, it can cause many an operational migraine. For example, a file you may have stored might be an outdated version. Which means you could waste a ton of time diligently working on it before discovering there’s a newer version readily available online…and then weeping quietly into your hands because you now have to do that work all over again.
This is an easily-avoided problem—most people already use cloud-based storage and backup systems. Just make sure that the head tech person also does physical backups regularly. We’ve had our data corrupted and rendered completely irretrievable by one of the big online services—if not for that daily physical backup, we would have lost years of data. That’s why we double backup everything!
Dodge Disorder with Dashboards
Tip: Keep status slides, meeting notes, and updates organized with dashboards. We have templates that can help.
Dashboards are essential for keeping everyone informed and on track – you can check your action items, everyone else’s action items, templates, status reporting, who is slacking and who’s killing it, as well as risks, blockages and links to any departmental information you need to find. Most importantly, you can do this instantly, 24/7. There is no better way to keep everyone in the loop and in the know than with dashboards.
Technology is your best friend when it comes to unifying your team and keeping everyone headed in the same direction. When everyone can access the same up-to-date information, there’s no room for confusion or mistakes. I’m not saying there won’t be confusion or mistakes…but at least you can minimize misunderstandings and enjoy more wins than losses in your own game of “Telephone.”
Still feeling some growing pains around communicating with your virtual teams? We have the experience to help. Reach out now to see how we make virtual teams work.