I live in the west. Smack dab in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. I don’t tote around a six-shooter, but I do drive a Jeep, like to go camping, and enjoy playing in the mountains or the high deserts of Southern Utah. After you escape the bigger cities and get off the Interstate, there’s a lot of wide-open country-towns are summer camp software about thirty miles apart. It’s the distance a buggy or a horse and rider could travel in a day (and the distance I can cover in my Jeep in about 30 minutes). My world is a little smaller than the early settlers in Utah.
However, for organizations doing project based work, the world has become even smaller. The vast array of technological tools available today are getting better and better at making virtual project teams effective, allowing people to be accessible without being in the same building, the same country, or even the same continent.
Some of the benefits of building virtual teams include:
• Organizations can hire the best people for the job regardless of geographic proximity
• The overhead expenses related to brick-and-mortar office space can be reduced
• Global project teams make it possible for work to be virtually done around-the-clock
The benefits of working with virtual teams can be pretty substantial, but there are some considerations that need to be taken into account before jumping in with both feet. If you’re considering working with virtual teams, let me suggest the following regarding people, process, and technology:
• Trust yourself and your employees
• Clearly communicate roles, responsibilities, and expectations
• As a team, understand how productivity will be measured
• Build a communication plan that takes into account the diverse geographical relationship of the team
• Define an electronic records archiving policy
• Establish an electronic communications standard
• Use collaborative workspaces to manage project content
• Deploy and use an online “chat-like” capability
• Use Internet-based meetings with both voice and video
Online project management software has come a long way in the last few years, making it possible for organizations to manage projects and teams from anywhere with an Internet connection. When looking for a technology solution, it’s important to consider a few things like foreign language capability, platform independence, collaboration and communication capabilities, as well as scalability of the network and online access. The right solution will help address many of the people and process requirements of working with a virtual team.
Do you have experience working virtually with a project team? Please share what you’re doing to promote efficiency and effectiveness with a global team.