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.
I have a guilty pleasure, I won’t lie; I love my soap opera which I watch on DVR every night, no joke. But it’s funny what I notice and am constantly annoyed by (blame it on my profession). One of the actors on the show is always shown talking on a flip phone (a flip phone? Seriously? No one in production has a smartphone this poor guy can use?) It makes me wonder, how did anyone get anything done before smartphones? There are so many amazing apps that work so well, your office can be anywhere and work just as efficiently as if you were sitting in front of a desk.
Many people these days work from their cars or from planes or whatever other mode of travel they use to make a living. When you’re doing that, it’s difficult to work on a laptop. This is why I’ve assembled my top five apps for those who work on the go!
- Assistant: iPhone users have Siri, yes, but what about Android users? Well, for this free app, Assistant will speak to you and take care of all of the same things Siri does-check the weather make hands free phone calls and keep track of daily tasks.
- Google Now: Google Now works just the same as Assistant but goes that extra mile Assistant doesn’t. Google Now accesses your calendar and sends you weather information in the location you are heading to, your travel time, traffic issues, and also offers to turn your phone to mute automatically during your appointment.
- Dragon Dictation: This free app offers voice-based not taking which is ideal when you’re driving or just on the go. No need to walk around with a separate tape recorder, Dragon Dictation takes care of it for you!
- MindJet: If you have complex projects and don’t have the time to sit in front of a computer to essentially “connect the dots” this is the app for you. You can create a ‘mind-map” to put together your ideas within the natural flow and order they come in.
- Astrid Tasks: A lot of times we work in teams, yet work separately. Astrid Tasks is perfect for group projects that involve a lot of tasks at once. You can create to do lists and collaborate with others, plus the app has a timer to make sure you stay on task and meet your deadline!
*Bonus! Penultimate is amazing for taking notes when you don’t have pen and paper. This app uses your phone’s touchscreen to take handwritten notes faster than typing. Penultimate uses Evernote so you can combine the two apps. Unfortunately this is only available on iOS, however expect it to be available to all smartphone users in the future.
With a smartphone you can stay connected, on task, and within your deadline-no need to lug your laptop around if the only reason you need it is to achieve the above mentioned tasks. Travel smart! And tell me what apps are your favorites for your mobile office!