With real estate going up, desk space becoming a premium, new expectations of flexibility and global collaboration -- learning how to make a go of virtual teams is a fairly important rung on the old success ladder.
Michael Shaw of Times Education Tech shared his thoughts on what makes for a great collaboration between humans of different offices.
Simple things like microphones seem so obvious but are so rarely catered for properly. If I can't hear, I find myself leaning in, leaning in, then eventually switching off.
He also sings the praises of being visual. I quite agree. In fact, can we all agree:
In person > video chat > audio chat > instant messaging > email > sending a raven
But email only just beats the raven.
Other top tips: Recordings. Backup plans. Making space for coffee machine chat. And even considering the merits of emojis. The same things that humanise your in-office relationships have the capacity for humanising your virtual ones. In fact, working from home yourself can be a great way to see what your dial-ins go through, and give you a new edge on empathy next time you work that way.
What are your top tips for making a success of virtual teams?
Andy (based in Cape Town) said it was especially important with remote teams for everyone to be willing to drop what they were doing and answer other people’s questions. “A team I worked on had the simple rule: if someone asks whether you have a minute, the default answer is ‘Yes’; maybe, ‘Give me five minutes’, if you are in the middle of something. Essentially, while the person being interrupted often bears a context-switch cost, it means that we don’t have people sitting around stuck on problems for too long before getting some assistance.”