Working online with your team can be equally effective if you take the time to build your team as you would in person.
The Task - Relationship balance:
Face to face teams naturally have a higher relationship focus, whereas virtual teams have a higher task focus. On virtual teams, it is important to put the effort into relationship building:
- include activities that create opportunities to build trust and relationships (build check in's into agendas)
- have regularly scheduled meetings
- take time at the beginning to learn about eachother in the check ins (dedicate 30-40 minutes to this)
- create check ins about team health throughout the semester. How are we working as a team?
Create a culture of preparedness on your virtual team
Identify what communication platforms will work for your team needs for each task. For example, when creating a team agreement, skype or collaborate are recommended. Determine what channels will be used for instant chat/text between meetings. Use platforms that you can record if a team member can't make an online meeting.
Different Modes of Communication for different tasks:
- Brainstorming: Linoit, Padlet, Mindmup
- Document Sharing: Google Drive, Dropbox
- Project/Time Management: Google Calendar, Asana, Trello
- Communication, team agreements, team meetings, checkins, addressing issues: Moodle Forums, Google hangout, Blackboard Collaborate, Skype, Slack, WhatsApp, WeChat.
Clarity is extremely important on virtual teams in meetings:
- Separate items that are informational, items that require discussion
- Spend more time writing/sending information ahead of time so that you can discuss and decide in meetings
- If someone arrives unprepared identify immediately, hold your team members accountable
- Agendas for meetings create a culture of accountability
For more tips, check out this article on a successful online team.
Resources: Sherman, L. (2015) The Keys to Collaboration. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. North Charleston,South Carolina.