These days, more work is being done by groups of people separated by geography. In this guest post, business consultant Guy Asher describes some of the ways cloud computing can help overcome those challenges.
When you manage a virtual team, it can be pretty tough to bring everyone together. Sometimes, your VP is half-way around the world. How do you manage that? With different time zones and cultural backgrounds, work schedules tend to be rather fluid. Here’s how to use the cloud to bring virtual teams closer together.
1. Conference calling and video chat
There’s something to be said about conference calls and video chatting. When you can see the other person, or hear their voice, they suddenly don’t seem so far away. This is especially true for teams that are born on the Internet – no one has ever physically met.
Video chatting can be a bit tricky to set up if everyone lives in a different time zone, but it’s probably one of the best ways to hold a meeting. Best of all, everyone can lounge around in their living room during the meeting. It sort of feels like everyone is in everyone else’s home. You’re sharing part of their personal life – it’s hard not to feel closer to everyone on the chat.
Barring a conference call or chat, companies can make extensive use of group email or text chat. Chat rooms might seem so 1990s, but they still have their place in a virtual business. Most people’s Internet connection can handle even the most complex chat interface. They’re intuitive, lightweight, and it’s easy to communicate simple messages to everyone on the team throughout the workday.
2. White boards
Basecamp is a godsend for companies that need to bring together multiple people for a project. Basically, the program, run by tech company 37Signals, creates a virtual board room. There’s a white board and a threaded message board.
Communication is a snap, and team members can add to, or delete, items on the white board as necessary. Employees can also select one, several, or all employees when adding to message boards so that everyone that needs to know about project updates get the memo.
Not all companies need a white board, but, for those that do, these kinds of services are invaluable. Why not just use email? Email is fine for simple messaging, but threads quickly become cluttered. Important messages become lost. Pretty soon, you forget who said what – what was the benchmark for this quarter? Who was responsible for securing the new vendor? It’s an impossible mess.
3. Cloud-based storage for collaboration
One of the biggest challenges a virtual team faces is sharing documents. Often times, more than one person works on a project, handles figures, or touches an important presentation. This is where cloud-based systems can come in handy.
When you’re finished working on something, you simply save it straight to the cloud drive. It’s instantly transported to everyone who has access to the drive. In a way, this is sort of like the modern version of the fax machine – only better. Text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and even video can be handed off to team members without you ever having to set foot on a plane.
About the author: Guy Asher is a business consultant. He likes to involve himself in all aspects of making businesses more efficient and effective. Visit the www.lenstore.co.uk to see how this online store uses their site effectively to move their product.