December 5, 2014
While there are many benefits to operating out of two locations, communication and unity naturally becomes a more challenging endeavor for a distributed team. However, technology has delivered many tools which can make the distance seem a lot smaller. Whether you have distributed team members or bi-coastal offices, here are 7 ways to stay connected from coast to coast.
1. Video Conferencing
Video conferencing is a great way to keep your business’s lines of communication open. Looking at each another eye-to-eye on programs like Skype or Google Hangout is about as close as two people can get to meeting face-to-face. This can help to avoid miscommunication over e-mail, and help to foster a sense of closeness that talking on the phone cannot. Your employees will work together better if they feel that they truly know one another.
TaskRabbit is a great way to outsource some of those day-to-day errands of life and business. We have literally used TaskRabbit to send cupcakes to our San Francisco office when it was someone’s birthday, for example. We don’t have an office manager in our San Francisco office, so we have to manage fun surprises like that remotely. TaskRabbit helps tremendously.
3. Project Management Software
We use JIRA, but there are dozens of great project management tools available today. Rather than try to communicate via company e-mail, which can be confusing and time-consuming, you can track work and give assignments via a project management software. It is the simplest way to make sure work is getting done. It is also easy to check the status of projects, as it is designed specifically to make your life easier, and to save time. As we all know in business, efficiency is key.
Store, sync, and share documents quickly and easily using Box, which is in essence, a virtual box in which to drop your work. It’s aptly named and widely used. Employee work is saved and secure so that you never have to worry about a computer crashing. It reduces the strain on IT efforts, and creates and efficient and simple way in which to give and get information for projects. It can be accessed from most all smart devices as well.
Slack is, in essence, a searchable database of all of your company’s messages, information and projects. Do you want to access all of the information that is “out there” about a specific presentation that your company is working on? You simply search and find data from messages, to documents.
6. Google Drive
Google Drive is a great place to share, sync, and collaborate on presentations, projects, and documents. It allows you to use many great Google apps that can aid you in getting documents signed, creating charts, and more. You can assign a project to 10 people, in 10 different states, and they can all simultaneously work on it. This creates a sense of community and teamwork previously not possible.
Of course, cross-country travel is often expensive. However, if you look for good deals and book during the off season, it can be much more affordable. This is not something that should happen every week, or even every month, but the cross-pollination and teambuilding that can happen when employees spend time together is quite valuable. If they have been communicating through the various other means of communication mentioned above, they can become a bonded team upon meeting and spending time together in person.
It may seem daunting or even impossible to keep the lines of communication open from across the country, but if you put forth the effort to get a variety of programs and technology in place, you will be amazed. Ideally, you should try and combine all of these methods, and keep vigilant about collaboration and communication so that your separate offices do not really feel so “separate.”
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