I’m regularly asked, “What are the best tools for virtual teams?”
I normally answer to the effect that it’s not about the tools, it’s about the people. When people are curious about each other and can see personal benefit in connecting, they will find a way. (In my opinion those are teachable behaviours, by the way, not personality traits.)
I was a member of various geographically-distributed workgroups before we even had the internet, so I know it can be done without the gizmos and gadgets.
But at the same time, nowadays nobody would dream of cycling to the bus station twice a day to send urgent documents with the bus driver, or searching in the rain for a phone box.
The world has moved on since then, and it keeps on moving. Everything’s a whole lot easier than it was in the “good old days”.
So, let me share my pick of the best tools for virtual teams: the top tools that tend to delight the people I work with, if they haven’t encountered them before.
The Best Tools For Virtual Teams
- The big one: a decent internet connection. It makes an enormous difference when you have a high-speed connection, capable of supporting video.
- A headset. On any audio- or video call, the trick is to make sure your microphone can’t hear the output from your speakers.
- A webcam. Use video. I know you probably won’t like it at first – but it makes a huge difference to the quality of your conversations.
- Zoom, by far the best video-calling service out there. One of its great advantages is that it supports dial-in, so anyone out in the sticks should still be able to join a call.
- TimeAndDate.com and Doodle for arranging meetings. I use ScheduleOnce and Google Calendar for my personal calendar, but a review of this is on my to-do list…
- … which is held in Trello (thanks to inspiration from Personal Kanban)
- … which is populated by regular automated reminders from IfThisThenThat.
- Another big favourite is Linoit: I use this online post-it board to make audio-only conference calls a little bit more visual.
- Facebook groups have proved as good as anything for water-cooler chat.
- One tool I haven’t really got into is Slack, though others swear by it. And one I used to use but recently abandoned is Asana, for project management. I suspect both of these are more useful for more full-time teams, whereas as my group projects tend to involve people who spend just a few hours, every so often, working on the same project.
- Similarly, the online remote retrospective tool Retrium is a bit big for what I need as an independent consultant.
I love the fact that new tools are being created every day, often free, and most of them are designed to interact with each other. Today’s find was ZeeMaps, where the 130+ members of my Metaphor Mastery programme are excitedly crowd-creating a map of where everyone is.
So, I’m sure to have missed some of the best tools for virtual teams – ones that you rely on all the time. What would you add to my list? Please comment below.