14 Tools for a Productive Virtual Team

    By Susan Poirier | Small Business

    14 Tools for a Productive Virtual Team image Virtual TeamVirtual TeamThe expansion of the digital global office is not just working in your pajamas and drinking coffee all day. It is an efficient and productive place of business to business operations. There has been a constant increase in the number of remote or work from home opportunities and it will only continue to escalate. It gives your business the benefit of assembling a top notch team of professionals, working in a variety of time zones, contributing to your growth and success.

    At last count, that amounted to some 3.3 million people working remotely (not including the self-employed or unpaid volunteers), or 2.6% of the U.S. employee workforce. Global Workplace Analytics

    Operating a virtual office can be simplified through utilization of many of the online/open-source productivity and collaborative tools ensuring a connected global workforce. Creating a virtual team is a cost effective and productive avenue to manage your business, maintain a low overhead; thereby increasing your profit margin.

    Working remotely offers a more versatile environment, increased work/life balance, varied working hours, reduced stress, no commute and enhanced knowledge of technology.

    While members of your virtual team may not meet face to face very frequently, they do regularly interact online for discussions, brain-storming and training sessions, requiring a variety of tools to enhance communications, collaborative efforts and teamwork. Effective communications, transparency and feedback are the building blocks of your successful remote environment. Email and text are two of today’s most widely used “communication” tools but remember, a phone call or video chat offers more of the personal nuances and relationship builders within your virtual community.

    The applications shown below are just a minute sampling of the available basic online solutions, helping you to manage your remote office. Source the ones that best suit your present needs as well as those that will support your corporate growth and future goals.

    JUST THE BASICS: 14 Tools for a Productive Virtual Team
    1. Google Docs: office suite of online collaborative tools to create/share documents and forms
    2. Google Calendar: Web-based calendar to share and collaborate with your team
    3. Genbook: online calendar scheduling allowing colleagues and prospects to schedule appointments directly with you instead of continual back and forth emails
    4. SKYPE: VOiP for live chats, video or IMs. Also offers low cost calling options
    5. Viber: free calls, text and file sharing to other Viber users over WiFi or 3G. They also offer low cost calling options for non-Viber users
    6. Google Hangouts: group calls, video conferencing, file sharing, share on YouTube
    7. Mighty Text: simple tool to text from your computer and have all messages sync to your phone and other technologies. It even alerts you to incoming calls
    8. Ring Central: cloud based phone system – nationwide calling and fax
    9. JoinMe: screen sharing, send files, and share control
    10. Free Conference: set up free conference calls up to 150 attendees with call recording
    11. AnyMeeting: full featured online FREE meetings up to 200 attendees, video broadcasting, screen sharing, ext surveys, recording, invitations and more
    12. DropBox: free file storage, share with colleagues/friends. Simplifies sending or sharing of large documents that most mail clients are unable to accommodate. They offer two-step verification as an added security measure
    13. TeamBox: online project collaboration/management to streamline conversations and documents, keeping them in one central location.
    14. Awesome Screenshot: take full screen or partial screenshots: edit, annotate, save or send

    Just do your due diligence to ensure the features and benefits match your goals and collaborative requirements.

    • Work smarter, not harder.
    • Embrace the cloud.
    • Stay connected with your team.
    • Foster a community of trust and openness.
    • Remember to check-in weekly.
    • Don’t simply rely on texting and emails.
    • Use chat tools.
    • Create online communities for your team
    • Continue to research and review other collaborative tools.

    When working with your virtual team:

    14 Tools for a Productive Virtual Team image Virtual Team Expectations and Accountability114 Tools for a Productive Virtual Team

    What tools or applications do you find most effective?

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