When running a business remotely it may seem like a struggle to complete basic tasks, such as simple meetings, without real-life face-to-face contact. Engaging successfully with your community is very important for a virtual leader, in order to maintain workforce productivity to ensure that projects are carried out successfully.
Flipping the virtual lead needs strong objectives so that meetings, projects and deadlines run smoothly. Find ways of communicating clearly without feeling distant and fully engaged is the cultural change needed to meet instant communication challenges and expectations. If you are “in charge” remember you don’t always have to be the leader-not got the time to!
You’ll be glad to know there are plenty of social media tools and computer software packages that can assist with this and make your virtual leadership more effective. Here are some great tools that can be very beneficial, if not vital, for virtual work forces:
Skype is a useful piece of online software that allows people to communicate through voice or video over the internet. It is one of the most important tools for remote working, as it gives you the means to contact your work force to discuss company related issues and projects, bringing the traditional work meeting into the virtual world.
Unlike email, the conversation is instant, so no more waiting for replies in order to progress a project. Slow exchanges can be detrimental to your company, so Skype is an essential tool for remote businesses. It can also provide opportunities to work with long distance clients without spending a lot of your budget on travel, therefore making business easier and more profitable.
With Skype offering online personal phone numbers for use wherever you are, many people never actually have to meet clients in person. It’s now possible to contact anyone around the world without being charged expensive international rates. Why not get on Skype to reach more clients, discuss your ideas and get the creativity flowing?
Similar to Skype, GoToMeeting is also a tool that can allow you to hold long-distance meetings with colleagues and clients. It’s easy to use and understand, which means you won’t have to waste your time instructing clients how to use this tool and can therefore instantly focus on what needs to be discussed, just as you would do in a traditional work environment.
GoToMeeting also has a built-in screen-sharing feature, so you can share the contents of your screen with colleagues and clients to show the presentations and files required. This makes the experience just like a traditional office meeting, but without burdening you or your clients with unneeded travel.
Podio is an online platform that helps you to stay in contact with your work colleagues. It has a task management system, where you can set tasks and deadlines for colleagues and yourself. This allows everyone to know what has been achieved and what hasn’t, so everyone in the team is aware of which stage the project is at. You can also store knowledge on Podio to keep everyone up to date with the news relating to your industry, and to make everyone aware of business procedures and important company information.
Yammer is similar to Podio, and is also used for having private conversations with work colleagues through the use of a closed online community. The difference? Podio is more versatile as the apps are very customisable to fully suit the needs of a company, whereas Yammer is less customisable but is a bit easier to set up. They are both very useful for remote working, however, and can be seriously beneficial to a company where real-life contact is limited. Podio and Yammer are both effective for tracking projects and inspiring productivity through the sharing of ideas. This is particularly important for a remote working company as it will allow your workforce to input ideas and give feedback as they would in a traditional working environment, therefore improving your outcomes.
Evernote helps you to archive ideas and store notes on devices, so that you can always come back to an idea or remind yourself of something important later. It can store web pages, voice files, text documents and photographs, as well as handwritten documents through the use of handwriting recognition software. This is great for virtual companies to share and keep track of what each person is working on, and also helpful to pick up on everyone else’s ideas. Files can be synced with any device that you use as well, so it’s great for when you’re on the go, as well as getting new employees up to speed on the company’s activity.
Speech Recognition Software
Speech recognition software recognises what you are saying in order to allow you to get something written up without having to tire out your fingers on the keyboard. This is great for the online Skype meetings – meeting notes can be typed up without the extra effort. Speech recognition software is particularly important for remote workers as reminders of what has been discussed are vital, so project details can be checked. You can be safe in the knowledge that your employees are fully aware of their roles within a project, which will ensure the best result possible.
Hopefully this list of tools will assist the smooth running of your virtual company, and reassure you that face-to-face contact is not necessary to manage a successful business.
5 reasons to use ideas from The Virtual Leadership Flip to learn how to lead virtually are:
• Opportunity to lead using new tools and technologies
• Reach remote staff across the globe and reduce travel costs
• Understand how to increase revenue
• Hold interactive webinars and meetings
• Opportunity to gain a nationally recognised qualification in Remote Management
Sue Davison MD