Lately I have been looking at a lot of the tools for staying connected that are available on the internet. Several of them seem to be specifically designed for leaders of remote teams. WIKIs; Blogs; Twitter; facebook; LinkedIn; Google docs; webinar, video and teleconferencing sites; Skype and other VOIP sites are just a few of the tools that are available for free or nearly free. The leader today has to take it upon him or herself to make this stuff work but it is all there. In fact a book by Seth Gobin called Tribes describes this kind of leadership and I highly recommend reading it. Work with your IT guys if your company blocks some of these sites as social networking. Talk to the policy makers and show them how it can save time and money to have access to these sites.
One example that I am trying to get going is using a WIKI site like PBwiki.com to allow an EMS service stay connected. While not suffereing from geographical dispersion the 45 or so people in the organization are seldom on at the same time. typically there are three teams of three on at the same time in different parts of the city. But they need to communicate as committees to get things done. Using a Wiki as well as there phone would allow them to share files, make changes to the files and the committee chair would be able to see what each member was trying to say and make the final changes. Every one gets there input in and no one has to come in on their off days to attend a meeting that really was not needed.
Like wise training of the team can be accomplished without a lot of work to get together. In the above mentioned EMS service I am one of the helicopter pilots. The FAA regulations tell us that the pilots have restrictions on how long we can work in one day. This limits us from meeting regularly. As pilots we work a seven day shift and then only 2 of the four pilots are on each shift. To make it more difficult to meet, those two pilots are on opposite twelve hour shifts. When one comes on duty the other goes off. This part of the EMS team then does most everything through email and notes, reading files, and word of mouth. Could we do better with a wiki or maybe something like google docs? Possibly. It will be interesting to see what we can do to make it easier to communicate. If you are interested in remote team communications and how personalities play into this a book called “The I in Team” by Susan K. Gerke and Linda V. Berens might be worth checking out. What do you Think? Thanks for reading. Ken