(You can download this handy PDF with the questions to guide you through your transition to a more flexible or virtual team by clicking here.)
Companies and teams that are “born virtual”, just get on with the work.
They’re usually formed of people who have already embraced this new way of working. They are used to relationships being built in this way; they know how to collaborate through technology. The road is still a bit rocky (it always is when you’re dealing with humans) but as as they've only ever worked together in this way, they just make it work.
For those of you transitioning from being regularly in the office together to operating more as a remote or hybrid team, it’s a different story. When we are collocated, we adopt certain behaviours and ways of relating to each other. We build a team identity that revolves around those things we do together. We don’t give a second thought to how we work with each other, as it’s the way we’ve always done it. To replicate all this being physically apart seems impossible.
Before Panic Sets In…
Hang on, before you jump ahead and start to think about how on earth you’re going to make it work when Peter works three days from home, Paul moves to Brighton and Mary comes into the office only in the mornings, take a snap shot of your current work patterns.
Break down how you currently work together and decide which processes and habits you want to keep and which you’d like to change.
And if you take your time and turn this into a team development exercise, you might even improve your team process and address some issues that have been waiting for your attention for a while...
Transitioning to Virtual
We’ve grouped the questions around the seven elements of VIRTUAL teamwork. Make a note of those processes which already involve you using technology.
It's Not All About the Tools... but you'll still need them
Now, when you start to plan your transition to virtual, have a look at those processes already enabled by technology.
Can you keep them as they are or will you need to tweak them slightly?
For your other processes, how will you find new ways of operating?
Will you need to integrate technology? If so, what will you need that technology to do for you?
Here are some things to consider when starting to think about online communication:
- Will you need some form of quick, immediate communication? (like Instant Messaging)
- What should you do if you can’t get hold of someone? (telephone, email?)
- Will you need to have conversations real-time, that others can access later? (eg video conferencing with recording available)
- How will you have short, sharp conversations as a group? (maybe through a collaboration platform)
- How will you have in-depth conversations one to many? (does the collaboration platform allow for blog post type postings/)
- How will you have one-one in depth conversations?
Hopefully all these questions will help you to start formulating a transition plan. But if you need a bit more help, let us know!
(Meanwhile, for those of you already managing or leading a virtual team, take the team audit to see whether there is anything you should address.)