Top Digital Communication Tools for Virtual Teams, Part 1

On Friday of last week I attended a great “Lunch and Learn” session at the Austin Chamber of Commerce offices. It was put on by Dale Carnegie Training, and focused on how to best lead virtual teams in the digital age.

The session really got me thinking. For virtual teams, communication and alignment are paramount. But we do not have the in-person rapport-building you find in a physical office setting. So digital means are a must.

Coming out of the session, I decided to build a list of tool types and descriptions. These should be useful for you whether working with employees in Asia, outsourcing partners across the country, or any type of virtual team or joint client/vendor projects.

Standard Communication Tools

The first place to start is pretty logical – existing and accepted communication vehicles that most of us already have access to (or should).

Telephone

Let’s start with the simplest and most logical medium: the telephone. Everyone should have access to a phone in one way or another, be it traditional Landline, PBX, Cell Phone, VoIP, or an online service like Google Voice.

Email

As probably the most used, yet least rich medium, email absolutely HAS to be included. It’s easy. It’s convenient. But it is not the answer to all circumstances. When things start getting tense over email, move to a more personal touch point such as the telephone.

Online Chat

In a real-time world, many professionals choose to use chat for business purposes. This is great when both parties accept the channel as standard course of business, since you get immediate replies. No waiting for when they can find a moment to reply to an email.

Online Meetings

With the recent economic hardships, online meetings have become much more commonplace than they were in the past. And there are a slew of tools that can help, including Webex, GoToMeeting / GoToWebinar, and Online Meetings from FreeConferenceCall.com.

Combination Platforms

Newer platforms have emerged that cross some or all of the above services. The most well-known is Skype, but FreeConferenceCall.com, Google, ooVoo, and many others offer models that combine various pieces.

Other Types of Tools

This is part 1 of a 2 part series. Tomorrow, I will cover two more types of tools that are available and gaining ground in the digital communication space:

  • Collaboration Platforms
  • Enterprise Social Networks

Check back late morning to read Part 2. Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment on this part of the blog post below.