Working in virtual teams can be a challenge to say the least, and all large global organisations have them.
How do many virtual teams get around these challenges? Well, often they don't. They struggle with old tech and even older ways of working.
The enterprise social network, or ‘ESN’ for short, is the new kid on the block. When used to the maximum effect, it can supercharge a team’s virtual performance.
Communicating. Team members can share project updates, useful or inspirational link, meeting minutes, basically anything they like – without inundating everybody’s inboxes via a group email. With email, when someone replies all just to say ‘thanks’, the whole team needs to delete the message individually. Pleasantries can be done as simply as hitting ‘like’ to a comment in a social network. Much easier
Sharing files and media. Members can share documents via the ESN without having to attach them to an email. People will be thankful for not having their email storage quota maxed out (some orgs have as little as 500Mb for the storage). All types of rich media can be shared easily – videos, audio files, info-graphics, etc – and done in a relatively simple ‘one hit’ fashion.
Seeking help. Members can ask for assistance from the team on any given matter. Anyone within the team is free to respond. Compare this to the email model, where only the people that the sender thinks can help would be included. Why not make the request open to everyone in the team? Email encourages far too much thinking into who gets added to the TO and CC field.
Creating a record for future reference. The team’s activity is captured and can be used as a reference source in the future. This is especially useful for new recruits who can delve into historical conversations and quickly familiarize themselves with the key discussions. Conversations that take place in long email threads are inaccessible to anyone NOT on the original email distribution. This democratizes the teams intellectual property.
Helps team morale. The success of a virtual team hinges on how well team members communicate with each other. A social network helps to bind the team in subtle ways. Remember this is a ‘social’ network after all. . Members can ask for assistance from the team on a given matter. Anyone within the team is free to respond. Compare this to the email model, where only those that the sender thinks can help are included.
Let’s look at some of the things to consider when setting up a network for a virtual team.
I hope this article has given you some solid understanding for why social networks help virtual teamwork, as well as some practical ideas for setting one up. Now it’s over to you…