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Virtual Teams (Using Technology in a People-Oriented Way)

April 20, 2011

In the world of internet, social media and various ways to communicate via software and hardware from around the world, the virtual team (or Geographically Dispersed Team GDT) assembly is becoming more prominent. However, working with a group of people you have never met definitely poses its challenges. So, developing virtual team-building skills that include trust, accountability and appreciation in order to work well together is the key to a lucrative plan.

At Traveling Coaches, staying abreast of the latest technology is not only our focus, but a way of life. Our employees work all over the world and effective communication for our clients and among each other is a major contributor to our success. “Being a remote employee is a challenge for relationship building, but with social media tools in use at Traveling Coaches, I find that I am making strong connections with individuals in other teams. It’s great for me on a personal level while the company and the clients benefit from the increase in idea sharing,” says Tami Schiller, Learning Specialist.

So what makes a successful virtual team? Here are some of the top habits to integrate into your virtual environment.

Management support and commitment to the virtual environment. It’s not enough for managers to merely allow team members to work remotely. They should support it both philosophically and financially, ideally even working remotely themselves.

Communication regularly by voice and video chat. No matter what mix of communications technologies are used whether it be – email, IM, social media streams or videoconferencing. Voice and video technology binds people together best in the absence of face-to-face meetings.

The team shares a view of their work. Sharing calendars allows each member to know what everyone’s working on at a given point in time just by seeing who they’re talking to and what conferences they’re attending.

Team members get to know each other on a human level, not just virtual robots. A group chat room can provide a virtual water cooler for teammates to swap stories about what they did during their vacation or over the weekend. Quick instant messaging lets you learn little bits about another person’s life and know them more as a whole person.

Know and be known. The team needs to both know and understand the unique strengths and skills each team member brings to the team. This helps to build mutual respect.

Building a virtual environment doesn’t have to compromise the human element or separate the team on a personal level. The most admired companies in the world are evaluating how the ideas of virtual teams will contribute to employee satisfaction as a driving force behind their plans. Building trust is the key to a successful business relationship and plays a hefty role in connecting even on the electronic level.

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