Five Tools for Virtual Teams

communication tools for virtual teams

This week I've been working from Wisconsin where it's been easy to communicate effectively with at least one of my staff (because I'm staying at his house). But normally I'm in San Diego and I have staff across the continent.

When I talk or write about virtual teams, I tell people that they should talk with their teammates like they were back in jr. high with a school crush. You know the kind, “You hang up, no you hang up…ok, you hang up…”

Constant Communication is Key

So if you want to stay in constant communication, what tools might you use to help you stay connected?

Here are five of the ones I use regularly. I'd love to hear what other ones you use.

1. Jing

When a picture (or video) shares 1,000 words, I use Jing. It's a quick tool that does screen captures with a max of 5 minutes, so you know it will always be a short clip. But often it helps communicate when email doesn't work. I have friends that like screenr, so you may want to check them out too.

2. Skype

When I'm away from my home office, I don't bring my VoIP phone with me. I just use Skype and a USB microphone. My favorite USB mic? Since I'm on a Mac, I use MiC.

3. Google Talk

We spend time on phone calls – a lot of time. But you always want that secondary way to communicate – a back-channel. So I use GTalk for that.

4. BaseCamp Classic

Part of how we work is that we manage our tasks in BaseCamp – the classic version. I don't assign tasks, I assign roles – but my team will put their own tasks into BaseCamp and then track their effort against it. This helps me see how much we're investing in any given project, but also helps me cross-charge others when we're helping them (a corporate thing).

5. Twitter

Twitter is an informal way to share urls, quips, insights and more. It's the least serious of the channels I use, but also one that can often be faster and more effective than anything else – especially if someone has their phone but isn't checking email. They're still getting Twitter alerts.

So what tools do you use?