Monday, November 10, 2008

Working in a virtual team

Managing the work on Teamness is done entirely virtual using basically two environments: Teamness for all kind of data and Gmail. In this post I write a few thoughts about being part of a virtual team.

Image by Zed.Cat

Virtual team allows for mobility, but mobility doesn't mean absence. You need to work on your virtual presence and in today's world there are plenty of online tools to ease this process. These solutions are moving teams beyond phone and email, giving more and more space to other means of communication.

Stay up to date with what your team work. Micro blogging platforms like Twitter increased the frequency of achieving this. Posting five times per day about work related activities may replace the little chit-chat on the corridors in a real office. Everyone in the team may participate to these virtual discussions and you can even organize virtual coffee breaks while actually drinking coffee.

Looking at the results rather than activity is the efficient way of managing a project and the virtual world makes this task even easier. The list of completed tasks shows clearly if you were just busy with unimportant issues or you were focusing on being productive.

Don't use IM for business. IM instigates to chat and to endless discussions around the same subject without drawing conclusions. This is not what you need to get the job done. However, if you started twitting, make sure you're not transforming this into a new IM environment.

Eliminate meetings with a project collaboration tool. In my opinion, the only good thing about meetings is brainstorming. Use messages for that. Establish deadlines with milestones and create tasks for things that need to be done. Discuss those using comments, to clarify all the aspects. A summary of the work done can be obtained from the dashboard.

Connect personally with your colleagues. As Chris Nagele points out in this post: "nothing helps a team gel more than learning about each others personal lives". But it's not very difficult anymore to get connected with your colleagues. Social networking websites help sharing profiles about team members. Connecting with your colleagues on Flickr and looking through their photostreams you'll find out things you would otherwise talk about near the water cooler in the office.

Be consistent in using these tools. Doing this builds trust in time and eases the interaction with the team. Each member of the team would know what to expect from the others.

If you're working remotely or if part of a virtual team, you might want to also checkout FreelanceSwitch. If you're travelling a lot, Portableapps has a large collection of software that works on any "USB flash drive, iPod, memory card, portable hard drive or other portable device".

4 comments:

Eduard said...

Personally I don't like the direction in which we are moving and that being virtual social interaction. I might be somehow old fashioned but in the end I have to admit that we are moving towards virtualization. Project management is and will be impacted more and more by this and envisioning this might be the key to success. Related to the Brainstorming sessions and extrapolating i belie that a central role is fueling maintaining innovation among team members and a new concept can be also integrated, why not, in Teamness : "Remote Innovation"(I could not find anything yet about this and I might be the starter of this concept :) )

Paul Marculescu said...

Virtual social interaction has its own adepts and it started long time ago, probably with Usenet groups and later continued with IRC.

The initial purpose of the administrative software, like project collaboration tools or personal data management ones, is to actually free up time for us. The way we use it afterwards depends on each of us.

Eduard said...

I agree that all started a long time ago but nowadays is becoming for more and more people the only form of interaction. We might reach to the situation in which we chat between us over the internet at the same table in a Starbucks Coffee shop.

Show said...

For working remotely, take a look at http://www.showdocument.com
It allows you to upload any document and immediately review it together with anyone in real-time,
All the participants in the session see each others' drawing highlights and mouse , and it is free and requires no installation