Working with Virtual Teams: Part II

codingWe started our Working with Virtual Teams series last week and this post is going to dive into the importance of clear communication among virtual team members.  When selecting or interviewing virtual teams to work with, be sure you have your list of questions ready to ask.  Some of the important questions or considerations that we have found are:

  1. Who are the team members and who does what?
  2. Who is responsible or who will be the primary contact?
  3. What central on-line area will we use to communicate?
  4. Will we have team calls and if so how often?

Some of these questions will depend on the work being done and on the team being hired.  With our particular team, we tend to have initial meeting calls with our clients by including a few key members of the team to be on the call.  We have found this helpful because many times, a growing company is just not aware of what exactly they need.  Some need help with marketing, others need help with calendaring and scheduling and others simply don’t know what they need or how to figure out what they can off-load.  When multiple team members are included, we can come up with the most efficient use of people-power.

Working with Virtual Teams Can Open Many Possibilities

Consider for just five minutes all the things you do as a business owner.  Do you schedule your own appointments?  Do you manage your own travel and meetings offsite for your core group?  Are you also responsible for all the social media, marketing and article writing?  And who does your billing and your books?  Do you have one specific person responsible for your board meetings, getting the minutes out and assembling all documents for the directors?  Are you getting lost on social media sites or are you ignoring them all together?

These are just a few areas that you may want to consider picking apart what is on your plate and determining what is best to be handed off.  Then when you have the initial interview with the virtual team, you can ask not only what they do, but who does what and who will be responsible for the primary communication between the two businesses.

Using Central Databases when Working With Virtual Teams

Once you have determined the initial tasks to be outsourced, you will determine a central database on-line where you can keep track of the projects that are being handled.  Everyone working on the project will have access to the database, can input notations of what is happening and when.  Deadlines can be put into place so visually everyone can track the progress of a specific project.  This way, when you are unable to have that catch-up call, you can simply view the database and everyone knows where they stand with regard to a particular project.  Don’t worry, each virtual team you work with or interview will have a central location where they keep track of all their projects, so you won’t have to worry about investigating resources.

Depending on the team you work with will determine if there is a primary project manager in charge of keeping you updated or if you will work with multiple players.  This is a determination that has to be made once the team is selected, but it is a consideration you should be thinking about in advance.  Do you prefer one point of contact – or do you work better when you know every team member and how to reach them?

Working with virtual teams can be challenging but can also be lots of fun because the possibilities are endless.  You are opening your company up to new minds and new eyes and new ways of looking at things.  Our clients like to keep their options open and like fresh ideas, and we are all virtual professionals who have lots of years in the business world, and we each come with perspectives.  This has been a real asset for our clients.

Most Important when Working With Virtual Teams

Communication, Communication, Communication. While this is important in any team setting, it is vital when you are working with virtual teams to have consistent phone calls either via skype or teleconference.  Keeping lines of communication open is so important and I have always believed that when you put a voice and a face behind the words, there is so much additional communication that comes through.

 

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