Are you managing a virtual team? The Internet has made it possible to run organizations and companies with employees scattered all over the world. You can pretty much run a virtual team of scores of professionals from your basement in your pajamas.
Wondering what is a virtual team?
No, a virtual team doesn’t mean a collection of bots and computer programs working together in order to run a business. A virtual team involves people who work together but they are not at a single office. They might be operating from different cities, from different states, from different countries and even from different continents. All the virtual team members are connected with the Internet and the various tools it provides.
Hundreds of thousands of people these days are working as virtual teams. Are you one of them? Are you running a virtual team? What tools do you use in order to efficiently and successfully run a virtual team? How do you deal with different people from different backgrounds and most probably using different languages?
Being a global manager
When you’re running a virtual team you need to learn to be a global manager. You have to understand different cultures and work ethics coming from different regions. Of course it also involves adjusting different time zones and work schedules. Something that is quite natural in your culture might be considered offensive in another. I’m not saying that you need to thoroughly educate yourself about different cultures, it’s just that you must be open to learning, delearning and adapting.
Using collaborative tools
There are some great collaboration tools available and amazingly most of them are free. Take for instance Google apps. With Google apps you can collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, presentations and even online drawing. Google calendar is a great way of organizing schedules and assigning tasks according to different weeks and months. Google apps also allow you to create 50 business e-mail addresses free of cost (something like email@example.com).
Aside from Google apps you can also use Zoho.com that not only provides you a complete office suite but also solutions like CRM, ERP, invoicing and a horde of other applications that are hosted completely over the cloud.
There are many other commercial and non-commercial online applications that allow you to manage your entire business.
Using communication tools
When running a virtual team you need to communicate as often as possible. Skype and other applications make this extremely easy. Skype to Skype communications are completely free. You can text chat, voice chat and even video chat. You can also initiate screen sharing through Skype. Then you also have Google talk and Yahoo messenger that are a great way of constantly keeping in touch with your virtual team.
So these are some great ways of successfully running a virtual team. Are you running a virtual team too? Please share your experiences in the comments section.