Virtual team building tools are changing conventional wisdom on how to create corporate culture. Start-up companies operating as virtual enterprises from infancy, businesses hiring remotely, and companies sending employees home to telecommute are becoming more commonplace. The Internet has made it possible to run organizations and companies with employees scattered all over the world. They might be operating from different cities, states, countries and even from different continents. All virtual team members are connected with the Internet and here are a few virtual team building tools to help you succeed:
- Develop and implement a team manifesto
This includes a clear purpose, appropriate expectations, ground rules, processes for resolving conflict, solving problems, making decisions, collaborating, and leading. A team manifesto will provide a strong foundation that will prevent future pitfalls common to virtual teams.
- Hire like-minded people
Hire people who seem like a good fit and that’s not always from a serious point of view. Make sure people are able to react to silly questions and know how to have fun. You’ll get more productivity and enhanced collaboration from virtual team members who have a sense of humor and have a natural entrepreneurial spirit. These individuals need to have the right personality type, be self-motivated and self-disciplined.
- Use multiple forms of communication
Technology has made it easier than ever to work remotely and when running a virtual team you need to communicate as often as possible. Employees should keep in touch via phone, text message, email, instant message, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and other social networks. Web conferencing allows you to initiate screen sharing and there are various technologies available to help employees navigate the barriers of working remotely. When possible, face-to-face meetings should trump technology for the uber-important stuff.
- Freely share information
Implement collaboration software such as Google apps or a customized online dashboard to access documents, files, templates, company guidelines and financials. Use an online bulletin to communicate new client wins and information about ongoing projects. This allows virtual team members to see who’s working on what project and how the stages of development are coming along. Everyone should be able to pull these items up wherever they are, at any given time.
- Be a global manager
When you’re running a virtual team you need to learn to be a global manager. Understanding cultures and work ethics in various global regions involves adjusting to time zones therefore creating different work schedules. Daily routines that are natural to you may be offensive or unnatural in another country. It’s a must you educate yourself on these style differences and adapt to them.
Working remotely is a breath of fresh air for employees who are getting their MBA, have long commutes or young children to shuffle around. If an employee doesn’t have to go into an office he or she could be living or traveling anywhere in the world. Employers can cut down the cost of physical office space and expand their pool of job candidates if they aren’t limited by geography. Telecommuting is considered another perk in the work-life balance. The telework trend will only continue to get more popular and as more companies begin to offer it, remote working will make employers more appealing to candidates.
Editor’s Note: Angel Soria is an Internet Marketing Consultant, entrepreneur, columnist for the Tulare Kings Hispanic Times, expert contributor for www.saltywaffle.com, and currently obtaining her Executive MBA at Fresno State. To learn more about virtual team building tools, visit www.fresnolocalinternetmarketing.com and enter your name and email address in the boxes provided. Follow her @talk2angelsoria.