Working virtually can have its benefits (and I’ve mentioned them numerous times here), but it can also have its pitfalls as well, especially if you work with a team. There’s a lot to be said for one on one face time, or even just having the opportunity to share a story over the ‘water cooler’ to building camaraderie. But, what do you do when you don’t have that ability? When your business is fully virtual (like mine), making it impossible to have a space to work together?
It’s very important to find the common ground in building a relationship with your team to keep them focused, and to keep them on a united front. Yes, we’re all working separately, but there are ways to make it feel as though we’re all in the same office. Leadership has to be tailored for this situation, and having one on one time with each individual team member will help make them feel as though they are part of a larger unit. If face time is possible, try to see your team members every now and then to touch base on production, questions, or issues. If you aren’t able to do this because a team member may live too far away or in another state, try using Skype. Communicating clearly is paramount to a successful team!
It’s difficult to communicate if you don’t have the proper software. Use any Google Apps to share your email, calendar, or even to have team conferences. GoToMeetings is great for large meetings and Skype or Facetime (if you have a iOS) work well when you need to see your team member. ToDoist and Yammer are fantastic for remote teams but of course; find the ones that work best for you. Checking in weekly or monthly with your team members using one or all of these applications will make you all feel as though you’re all in the same office.
Whatever way you choose to communicate, do often, do it clearly, and leave room for questions or concerns. It’s easy to tell when someone is frustrated about something when you see them face to face, but the dynamics are different when you never see your team members. Don’t leave them in the dark; doing your best to keep them in the loop will only benefit your company in the end.