Go and visit your team members, even if they live on the other side of the world (actually, that’s all the more reason to do so). If you are working with others for a long period of time, say over 6 months, and the work is intensive (you are putting in at least 50% of your time on the project), make it a business priority to go and be part of their work and life for a week or so. See what the world is like for them. Eg, what’s it like to travel to the office where they live? What’s it like working in their office?
It’s not always practical, and for some projects the duration of your work is too short to make it work, but if you can, go and visit your team members at their place of work.
This is not a mandate, but it’s an idea to help you work more effectively with the people that you are working with. Once, I worked with another person for almost 5 years with never meeting them during that time. And the one time that I was in his city, he was in London. Nonetheless, I went to his office, looked around, saw what it was like, looked out his window, and even called him in London from his office phone (we had arranged all of this). His office wasn’t quite what I expected, but it gave me a visual reference point of what his work life was like when we talked from that point on.
What Do I Need To Do?
Put it in your budget – both financial and year planning – to go and visit the people that you are working with.
If you can’t visit with them, maybe because there is no funds to do it, or because you are only working with them for a short time, say weeks or months, one thing you can do is to arrange a video tour of their office, and then give them one of yours. Set up a 30-minute meeting with them, and ask them to show you around their work space with the video camera on their computer, giving you the verbal tour at what you are seeing. And then you do the same.
See A-Z of Virtual Teams: Summary for the complete list.
Categories: Culture & Competency