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Best-practice tips and tools

This article introduces some best-practice tips and tools we can use when collaborating and creating change with virtual teams.

Some best-practice tips and tools that we can use when we consider collaborating and creating change with virtual teams are listed below. 

Virtual work management tips 

Overcommunicate: The major difference we need to consider when we think about virtual work environments is the way we communicate with our team. It’s not as simple as moving meetings from a face-to-face environment to a virtual environment; in fact, it’s much more complex than that. We must communicate more frequently with our colleagues – not to micromanage them but to go the extra mile in terms of communication with our team. Prioritising clarity in our messages, jumping on a virtual call instead of sending an email, and encouraging clarity from all team members are all very important. 

Productive virtual meetings: Having productive meetings is very important to managers who want to create collaboration and change with their teams virtually. A clear plan and agenda are a good start, but think ahead. Are there certain documents that should be shared before a meeting? Does everybody have access to the right documents? We must consider these factors when running virtual meetings. Keeping notes and track of action items is another effective tool; following up on those action items and making this a reference point for future discussion is also important. Make sure that meetings are recorded – this gives those who are unable to make the meeting or are in a different time zone an opportunity to see what happened in the meeting. It’s also important that we are respectful of our team members’ time zones and consider this whenever we set virtual meetings with a global team or one that works across multiple boundaries. 

Establish communication protocols: It’s important to understand how the team will communicate, from considering how scheduling calls will work to when personal messaging is allowed and the number of times you’ll communicate with each team member. Don’t assume that the real-world way of communicating will also work remotely. It can be helpful to use multiple communication channels, such as instant messaging platforms where you can set up specific channels. For example, having a ‘Finance’ channel on a remote messaging app allows everybody who wants to discuss finance to do so in that section. 

Virtual work tools 

Some of the best-practice tools that we might be able to implement include:   

Slack, or any other team communication app: Slack is used by remote teams as a virtual office, where people can instant message one another, connect with their colleagues in both group and one-on-one formats, and use different channels to separate workstreams. This can also be effective when considering using Teams or similar. 

Zoom/Teams/Google: These platforms can be used to facilitate video calls and conferencing, giving us the ability to meet with our teams virtually.  

Miro or InVision: Both of these are excellent brainstorming tools that can be used to collate ideas and mirror the experience of using a whiteboard in an ‘in-person’ meeting.  

Trello, Asana, or other tools: Trello and Asana are effective project management tools that can track the progress of various projects and assess their outcomes. You can also add timelines and key dates to the project management dashboards. One advantage of using these tools is that we can integrate all of our team members on the platform, and this means everybody can follow how the projects are progressing. 

Google Drive: Google Drive can be an effective remote working tool for working on documents collaboratively in real time or storing documents. The fact that this tool allows for collaboration in a live format whilst multiple people have the document open is very useful. 

There are also many other tools that we might consider when working remotely. Managers should consider that each team will have unique preferences and must ensure that everybody has access to the same tools. When working across some geographic boundaries, it may not be appropriate to use some of these tools, so managers should seek alternatives.

Reference: Best virtual work tools[3].

Reference

3. Kirkwood J. The 9 best online collaboration tools for remote workers [Internet]. New York: InVision; 2018 [cited 5 January 2023]. Available from: https://www.invisionapp.com/inside-design/online-collaboration-tools-remote/

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