So as anyone who’s tried working in distributed teams knows, working virtually can quickly turn into virtually working – all the motions but not all the output. It can be particularly difficult for collaborative and time-sensitive projects such as ours. (You can read all about it in a book co-written by Rob Oyung, my group manager when I was at HP: Working Virtually) One way to increase productivity is, of course, face-to-face meetings like the one we just had for 2 weeks which really helps get the momentum going. Once you return to your virtual ways, here are some tips for staying synchronized virtually.
- Define objectives and tasks SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and tangible.
- Track them with online tools such as Basecamp. Basecamp is quite lightweight, easy to use, and free to try for single projects.
- Have constant and open communications through:
- Unlimited mobile-to-mobile minutes: we’re on Sprint
- All-in-one printers that can scan/fax to share documents: I have an HP, John has a Brother. Doing this over the unlimited minutes landline from Vonage and emailing PDFs.
- Instant messaging of course: GoogleTalk, MSN, etc.
- Web-based group chat: Campfire looks really interesting, but we haven’t set it up yet.
- PC-to-PC calling: Skype. Sometimes this is easier when you’re at the computer and just want to do a quick call with no headset.
- If you’re doing code development, you’ll definitely need a version control system. We’re using Subversion on our site hosted by Site5. In addition to code, once you have it setup, you could also use it for other business documents.
- Share bookmarks online: del.icio.us is a social bookmarking site that makes it really easy to share and find bookmarks online.
Any other tips you want to share? Let us know.