We don’t share an actual water cooler at JustWrite Solutions, but we still find ways to connect with our colleagues; we’re just a little more creative. And it appears we’re not alone. According to a 2012 study by the Society for Human Resource Management, almost half of the organizations polled used virtual teams.
Thanks to a myriad of programs available today that connect employees, the virtual company can really work together—while alone.
Virtual work teams have their benefits. According to a 2009 study by Cisco, nearly 70% of the 2,000 employees surveyed said they were more productive when working remotely, and 83% said they communicated as well—sometimes better—with colleagues compared to working on site.
To remain productive and keep morale at a healthy level, virtual teams have to make deliberate efforts to connect. At JWS we use Dropbox for sharing files and data and Basecamp to plan and keep everyone on the same page with projects. Conference calls arranged through GoToMeeting make team calls with staff or clients as simple as picking up the phone and dialing.
Logistics aside, colleagues still need to take time to connect in personal ways. Our work week begins each Monday with a question through Basecamp that is sent to all employee. It simply asks, “What are you working on this week?” And our week ends with the group question, “What’s one awesome thing that happened to you this week?” Often, answers to that second question are personal achievements that allow us to cheer each other on from afar. Basecamp even lets us hit the “applause” button to show our co-workers we are rooting for them.
There are a lot more programs that virtual teams can use to communicate, such as Draft for collaborating on documents, Appear.in for video chats, and Join.me for screen sharing.
But nearly all successful virtual teams make time to connect face-to-face. Whether it’s at a training conference or a biannual get together held in a central location, it’s always good to see the people you work with, to foster work relationships, build trust, and simply catch up.
How does your virtual team stay connected?