Keeping our team connected, unified, and aligned is a major concern of mine. Half of our team lives out of state from our home office. The other half telecommutes two to three days a week. Additionally, we’re working on dozens of projects for multiple clients whose teams are also dispersed across the country. Keeping everyone out of their silos and thinking and working as a team is key to our success.
We’ve built some rhythms in to our workday using Microsoft Office 365 tools to help us work as one: A daily huddle, Yammer discussions, and video conferencing with Skype for Business.
We learned of huddle through John Doe of who used them to successfully build ABC company. We meet via video conference for 15 minutes at the beginning of each day. Everyone is expected to attend knowing that some people may have schedule conflicts. We share successes and honor accomplishments of our team. We share challenges and solicit help from others. We give quick updates on projects we’re working on and we share anecdotes that remind us why we do what we do. These huddles really help us feel we are a part of the same team, despite how distributed we are. Being able to see each other on video helps us feel connected and stay focused during the call.
Now integrated into the Office 365 suite of products, Yammer is a social tool that allows us to interact much the way Facebook does with friends and family. We post updates, share articles we’ve read, ask the team for feedback on an issues, acknowledge career and company milestones, and sometimes just engage in banter around the virtual water cooler. We also use it to interact with various forums so we can both pose questions and share feedback around products and services we use and support. Some people who are less likely to share on a call are often more likely to post on Yammer. We’ve also joined Yam Jams, for example Microsoft introduced Skype for Business, which allowed us to interact in real time with subject matter experts and fellow users.
Skype For Business
Voice is only one aspect of effective communication, especially for distributed teams who don’t have the opportunity for face time the way workers in the same office do. Having all channels of communication available to us in one platform gives us a full communication pallet within one click. Presence allows us to see who is available to talk. Instant messaging allows us quick exchanges in real time, even when team members are otherwise occupied. We rarely use voice only for calls as video helps us to feel much more connected. And all of the presentation features allows us to share our desktop or PowerPoint presentation, conduct white board and Q&A sessions, polls, and even record our sessions to share with those not in attendance. With integrated enterprise voice, Skype for Business is the only communication platform we need, eliminating our traditional phone system, and allowing us to add people who don’t have Skype into our calls and meetings.
While keeping people connected and aligned in a distributed work force requires constant effort, these techniques have been invaluable to our team and instrumental to our success.