Productivity Hacks

Collaboration Tools for Virtual Teams

Working on virtual teams can be challenging. When team members are spread across different locations, time zones, and schedules, it can be difficult to stay aligned. But with the right collaboration tools, you can build an effective meeting culture that keeps everyone on the same page. In this post, we'll explore 6 strategies and collaboration tools to align your virtual team.

1. Set Up Recurring Check-Ins

Consistency is key for distributed teams. Set up regular check-in meetings with the whole team present. This could be a daily 15 minute stand-up meeting or a weekly 30 minute sync. During check-ins, have each person share what they're working on, roadblocks they're facing, and anything else that's top of mind. Tools like Zoom, Whereby, or Loom can enable video check-ins when in-person isn't possible. Setting a recurring meeting cadence gives a sense of rhythm and routine for the team.

2. Overcommunicate with Asynchronous Tools

When working across time zones, real-time communication isn't always feasible. Leverage asynchronous collaboration tools like Slack, Twist, or Microsoft Teams for ongoing conversations. Have open channels for discussions about projects, meetings, ideas, etc. The transparency keeps everyone in the loop. You can also use asynchronous video tools like Loom or Vidyard to record quick update videos. The casual videos give a virtual face-to-face feel. Set expectations that team members respond in a reasonable timeframe, even when offline.

3. Take Great Meeting Notes

For meetings without the full team, detailed meeting notes are a must. Don't just recap the agenda; take notes on key discussion points, decisions made, action items, and unanswered questions. Use Supernormal to collaborate on taking notes during meetings or add your notes later. Adding comments or clarifying questions also helps inform people who weren't there. Store all meeting docs and notes in a shared team site like Dropbox Paper, Google Docs, Notion, or Confluence.

4. Regularly Update Project Management Tools

Staying aligned on who is doing what and when is especially important for distributed teams. Set up a shared project management system like Asana, Trello, Jira, or ClickUp. Outline all major projects, status, owners, timelines, and next steps. Have a daily or weekly ritual where team members update statuses on their tasks. Project management tools become the single source of truth for the team.

5. Discuss Ideas in the Open with Wikis

Distributed teams miss out on casual conversations by the water cooler. Recreate this with an open team wiki using tools like Slack, Confluence, or Notion. Have an ongoing "Ideas" page where people can add random ideas, suggestions, or questions as they come up. Teammates can scroll through and +1 or comment on ideas they like. Ideas with the most engagement get discussed during check-ins. A team wiki gives transparency into what everyone is thinking about.

6. Foster Relationships with Virtual Events

Don't underestimate the value of relationship building and social connection on distributed teams. Plan regular virtual events to bond with teammates. Do a weekly virtual lunch over Zoom, where you eat and chat together. Or have a monthly virtual happy hour to socialize. Send the team care packages with fun gifts and treats in the mail. Or gather in virtual rooms in Gather or Teamflow to recreate the feel of being in the same space. Strengthening personal connections enables better professional collaboration.

Keep Meetings Aligned with Supernormal

Supernormal is a key tool for aligning distributed teams during and after meetings. Team members can collaborate in real-time to take collective notes. Anyone who misses the meeting can review what was discussed, action items, and decisions. Using Supernormal to capture meetings gives the team a shared reference point of truth.

Aligned distributed teams put processes in place for transparency and clarity in communication. Consistent check-ins, asynchronous updates, detailed documentation, and relationship building keep everyone working together smoothly. With collaboration tools like Supernormal helping align work across time zones and locations, virtual teams can thrive.

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