ESNs or internal collaboration technologies like Yammer or Sitrion can prove to be a pretty engaging way of keeping the teams connected.
Healthy communities encourage conversations, knowledge sharing, faster and more creative problem-solving as well as more efficient cross-functional collaboration. It also gives leaders such as myself the ability to connect better with their teams, to further strengthen this engagement by really listening, then responding by taking tangible actions.
Yet beyond – or even without – these ESN tools, you can create virtual communities. More importantly, you can create a real sense of community within virtual teams.
And that, I would argue, is the critical factor for success.
In addition to investing in ESNs using web-based communication tools, such as web-meetings and having regular conference calls, there are also various forms of informal communication available. Whatsapp or LinkedIn groups or other social collaboration tools could be an option. (Of course), we have to properly assess issues like risk and confidentiality, and ensure local regulators are happy with the use, when it comes to what we set up.
These groups can be used to share an interesting 'industry' article or just a humorous photo of a colleague wearing a funny piece of clothing or photos of a recent community fund raising event.
In the team I am part of, we have 30 people in a Whatsapp group. Every Friday, we have a photo sharing moment where we all share a photo of wherever we are. It is a fun way to create a casual connection with people you work with. Some people send photos of a city they are passing through, others have sent a photo of car they were in, one sent a photo of a phone while he was on a conference call.
Whatever is shared, it just helps keep a connection with someone else “in another part of the world” who is contributing to the same journey you are on.
Many, more tech savvy people will have other ways of connecting people using other forums - and the reality is that many exist - from WeChat in China, Line in Japan and Kakao in South Korea.
Personally, my phone has become overloaded with such social apps. However, I find the hassle of having such apps is a small price to pay for staying in touch - and bringing the team together.
I'm sure many of you have experiences of leading, working and motivating a virtual team. I’d really enjoy you sharing your thoughts and experiences - I am sure I still have plenty to learn.