Forty-three percent of Americans now work from home at least part-time, a New York Times article reported recently. And it’s only estimated to increase over the next few.
In an increasingly technologically-connected world, how do you optimize your virtual team? Do we risk losing valuable teamwork by having teams that are geographically disconnected?
Leigh Thompson is an author, professor and researcher in the field of negotiation tactics, dispute resolution and group collaboration. In the video below, Leigh discusses how to optimize your virtual team to get them performing as a cohesive unit, regardless of their actual proximity.
In this discussion, she offers four pieces of advice:
- Test the technology. A large percentage of miscommunications or poor meetings are simply the result of poor technology. Disconnected phone calls, inadequate prep of software–these things easily break down communication.
- Schmooze or lose. Just like any other relationship, trusting people enough to work well with them requires getting to know people. Set up “get to know each other” calls between people. Five minutes to talk about anything but work. Those relationships will evolve over time.
- Humanize members. Just like we wouldn’t feel comfortable being in a relationship with someone we only communicated with over emails and texts, it’s hard to form strong co-working relationships if you don’t interact in a more involved way. Something as simple as having a picture of the person you’re talking to helps feel like you’re talking to an actual person rather than an email address.
- Look in a mirror. That’s meant literally. Have a mirror handy at your desk–seeing your own reflection makes you less critical of others, and reflect more on your own actions. People are also less likely to cheat when confronted with their own visage.
As technology replaces actual physical interactions, we need to keep afloat of disconnection. What are you doing to ensure your team is performing at optimal levels?