Working in teams that are dispersed brings a number of challenges. In this page we look at some of the challeges they bring and some helpful tools.
Most people dislike working from home. Mostly they like to work together with their fellow members in teams where they can support each other, be supported, but importantly, hear and see what is really going on. When you distribute your team you have certain challenges to overcome. These are mainly those that prevent the team members supporting, being supported and knowing what’s going on.
How then can we start to address the above issues?
The first and main challenge to overcome is COMMUNICATION.
Communication is critical to a distributed team to ensure that all members can esily talk, write or view activities from other members of the team. Communication can be achieved through:
- Email. (The standard way a lot of team members are used to communicating. This therefore comes easily and does not require any change in the way they work. Ensure that email can be received on their devices at home easily, or on mobile phones.
- Files and project folders. Information for a team is their bread and butter. Ensure that the old familiar “Shared Files Drive” is available and accessible from home. All the resources they have had access to should still be in place for them.
- Chats. Office environments are often filled with the questions that fly over peoples head to another colleague. Questions that take seconds to ask but save hours of time. Distributed teams cannot do this. Therefore a team can benefit greatly from some form of chat mechanism. There are many of these available but if you run MS365, then the most obvious would be Teams. Teams provides channels of chat that allow 1:1 chats or team chats. Team chats should be kept to business only. For banter, and banter is important, use a casual channel. Keep work focussed.
- Phones. Mobiles can come into their own for quick phone call access but larger teams and help desks can benefit from VOIP Soft Phones on their PCs. These allow you run a full help desk phone queueing system from home. Agents can be brought into the queues and removed as and when required. We are able to set up these systems at reasonably short notice for you.
- Conference calls. Again using teams you can arrange conference calls and schedule them for each day or adhoc. Conference calls are an essential part of bringing the team together and can substitute for team meetings. They are more important in distributed teams as members who work away at home can become a little paranoid. Cabin fever can set in and they begin to feel cut-off and unsupported. Having a conference call can lift their spirit and make them feel part of a greater purpose.
Use the conference calls in the early days to focus on what is working and what is not working. You can quickly start to remove the barriers to distributed home working with this practice.
- These calls can be audio only or Video and audio. All you need is a web cam, and a headset and microphone, (or a mobile phone can do all of this.)Video provides that visual confernce where you can see peoples faces and expressions and renew that trust relationship through facial expression. A very important feature.
- A lot of the above can also be used in conjunction with suppliers and clients. They can be invited to these meetings and files, folders and pictures can be shared online or via a conference in the same way.
With larger teams our Sophos SSL VPNs are easy to deploy and multiple users can be hooked up and mobilised to work remotely.
Distributed teams can be very powerful within an organisation and when we identify the barriers, remove them and look after the well being of the team, productivity can still be high.
Please talk to us about how we can help you and your team by supporting and enabling them to work together.