Technology is at the heart of the work revolution. We wouldn't be talking so much about virtual teams if we couldn't easily access many, many tools to help us work with others many miles away. But, there are so many collaboration tools out there: how do you choose one for you and your team? Lisette and Pilar hope this episode will help you make a start.
00:35 Pilar's very short introduction.
03:30 Lisette and I were quite chatty this week. We talked about:
Happy Melly’s dance party and Muse cubes.
07:45 Hired an online personal trainer through FitOrbit.
11:30 Pilar got a nice message from one of her connections – podcasting with integrity.
17:20 We finally get down to talking about collaboration tools.
How the tool LIsette was using went bust overnight, a cautionary tale….
We start talking about tools, which Lisette divides into six categories.
22:50 Visualising and Brainstorming – the equivalent of the office sticky notes on the wall or wipeboard.
Slack - collaboration for virtual teams.
Group instant messaging system + video: Hipchat.
Trello – have a look at this video on how to use Trello.
Information, communication and collaboration (Phil Montero)
28:45 Project Management
Use Trello for the more basic pm, specially for less focused groups
44:20 File Storage
Dropbox and Google Drive.
54:45 Best practices when using collaboration tools with your virtual team:
Let the team decide. Introducing it in your team: have sandbox time, play with the tool.
Work in progress.Schedules/deadlines.Storage.Group conversation.
Someone to look after all this.
Having multiple screens when you're working helps.
01:02:30 Pilar's afterthoughts:
I think the most important thing to remember is that before you start trying out all these tools, that you think why you need them. So you can use the six different categories that Lisette outlined or you can also consider these:
- Does your team need a tool to help with asynchronous conversation and is it important to have an archive for these?
- Do you need to have spontaneous conversations – you’ll probably need a tool with some sort of chat option.
- Do you need to track conversations with parties outside your team?
- Do you need to look at each other’s work in progress?
- Do you all need to clearly visualize schedules and deadlines, in which case, make sure your tool has a calendar.
- Do you need storage you can all access? Etc etc.
You must ask yourself (and your team) these questions and start small and with a simple tool. I actually have a document that might help you, it’s nothing fancy, but it might start to help you focus. You can just download it – and if once you fill it in you’re not sure what to do with it, give me a call and I’ll give you a hand.
The other thing to remember when using these tools, and Lisette also touched on this, is that your information is going to be hosted on someone else’s servers, so remember that if you’re working in a corporation, there might be issues with data protection and confidentiality etc that you will have to think of and maybe even check up upon. And while I’m going into the legal arena, a reminder that what you heard is just Lisette and my opinion and it’s up to use to absorb what you hear wisely.
I think I also want to pick up on one of Lisette’s last points, which actually is the most important: if you are introducing a tool, be aware of how technically savvy you are. If you are like Lisette, be careful that you don’t overload your team. Take small steps and make sure that you give people the time to learn how to use the technology, and this goes for team members as well as managers or those in charge. In the same way, if you lie at the other end of the spectrum and refuse to use these tools, and I have seen this happen, be aware that you might be the block to better communication within your team.
And once the tools are in place, remember that it’s not about the tools, but how you use them – so you’ll need to evaluate your current processes and behaviours and think about how you need to adapt. The tools need to match your workflow and they need to be matched by collaborative behaviours, like having purposeful conversations, demonstrating appreciation and sharing information.
If you want to try some of these tools out, let me know. If I am currently using them, we can set 20 minutes aside. I’m currently working out how to use Slack because it seems like it’s going to be the perfect communication vehicle for the course I’m planning for September, but I’ll keep you posted