Communication is the foundation of any relationship we have with other people, and this includes the ones we foster in our own work and business. Having a solid line of communication is especially important in virtual teams who are not always physically within reach.
Distance and time zones are certainly not hindrances when it comes to building long-lasting relationships with your online workers and team. And because of technology, it’s become so much easier to send an instant message, call, and even talk to your teammates face-to-face! Thank goodness for tech and the internet!
I am proud to say that through tech, I was able to not only build AwayTeam, but also have meaningful connections and relationships with the folks behind it. I know that they are just a message away, and they know they can reach me despite the 3-hour time difference.
So, here are the apps and software that we’ve used to make the lines of communication between us open and solid.
Slack gets the seal of approval from AwayTeam. We have been using this since we established our business, and we are not looking to use another app anytime soon. Slack is a great tool that allows team members to instantly send messages privately or to the whole team no matter where they are in the world. You can create specific channels and groups for each department or project in your company.
Files can be easily shared, and different apps can be integrated, so you can work on more things while still on Slack. And if you need to make a quick emergency call with your online worker, you can do so straight on the app. It lets you collaborate and communicate, definitely making it an essential to our online team.
Our recruitment team utilizes Skype to engage with new clients and potential online workers. My internal team sometimes uses this for team chats too. Skype is a free software that works on a variety of platforms and devices (even on the Xbox 360). It offers free voice and video calls, and if you have Skype credits, you can even contact regular telephones. You can hold video chats, conference calls and share your screens for up to 25 participants - perfect to have during your team meetings.
For the marketing and creatives teams weekly meetings, we use Zoom Meetings, a cloud-based platform that hosts video and web conferences. Its wide range of features make it great for online training sessions, demos and webinars. You can share your screen or a specific application you’re using to the participants, and even turn off their mouse and keyboard so your can present smoothly and without distractions. Signing up and downloading the desktop client is free, and a free host account lets you host up to 100 participants for 40-minute meetings. I would advise getting a pro account if you are working with a remote team or online workers.
If your team has G Suite, chances are you already have access to its messaging service, Google Hangouts. What’s great about Hangouts is you only need to download a plug-in and you can start using the service. You can even send instant messages and start video calls on Gmail. Up to 30 people can join in a video call, and you can easily share your screens during meetings. This also features intelligent muting which helps reduce background noise while one person is speaking. And because Hangouts integrates with Google Calendar, you can easily schedule meetings and calls, and send out reminders to your team beforehand.
A relatively newcomer in the industry, Appear.in is quickly becoming the go-to website for video conferencing for small teams. You can sign up for free, create a room link, share that link to up to 4 people and they can instantly join! There’s no need to download any software or plug-ins, as everything is done on your web browser. Your meetings at Appear.in are not stored and all messages are encrypted, making sure that any sensitive information you talk about will not end up in the wrong hands. A free account lets you enjoy all these features, which makes it a very popular choice among solo entrepreneurs and startups working with online workers.
Developing, nurturing and sustaining your relationships with your team is one of the things that we as business owners should continuously do. And through these tools, you can easily and effectively accomplish this important task that will be a key contributor to your company’s success.