The Best way to Manage a Virtual Team

When companies expand, the teams that work on a global virtual basis also grow. Since time-zones are different and distances are wide, virtual teams need to find new strategies. Virtual global management becomes a way of life; new policies and less formalization are being introduced, yet there is still a need for management in order to get the project done.

Below are 10 strategies virtual team managers should take into consideration when overseeing their team’s accomplishments:

1) Availability – Always be accessible, if possible, for your team members around the clock. They need to be in a good mood in order to be productive. Virtual team managers can help with all types of queries, including the social life and daily activities of the team members. The best managers know that their team members should not feel isolated as they work in the virtual world.

2) Meetings – Online video-conferencing or meetings via Skype and social media should take place on a regular basis. Face-to-face meetings may be harder to organize, but crucial, if at all possible, once a year. The key is to build a good rapport.

3) Casual Conversations – Building trust through informal chats are important with virtual team members. Being flexible in scheduling attendance of team members to on-site jobs is also important. Weather, road and other conditions may be a disadvantage for the member locally and that should also be taken into consideration when they are setting up their schedule.

4) Location Rotations – It’s important for team members to go visit the actual locations where their team members are working. Global rotation of team members, for short periods, is a good experience.

5) Creative Team Bonding – Team gift giving and approval of the performance of all members is important for bonding the virtual groups together. This should be carried out year-round by the team manager.

6) Time Zone SelectionMaking an effective schedule for virtual global meetings is imperative, since time zones are so different. The time and date of the meetings should be carefully organized, so all participants get a fair chance of being at the meeting during hours that are not always too early or too late for them.

7) Cultural Training – Since virtual teams have members that are scattered all over the world, it is important to be aware and sensitive to the cultural manner things are done in various settings, such as sending emails, video chats and the like, in different cultures and social settings these forms of communication and the manner in which they are conveyed may have different meanings.

8) Pre-existing Team Climate – It is important for a manager to make sure that barriers are not created among new team members and those that already have been working together as a pre-existing team. Building relationships and socialization among all members will ensure strong team performance.

9) Recruiting Guidelines – When putting a team together, it’s important for coherence as far as the education and work experience of the majority of the members is concerned in order for them to be in sync with each other. Diversity is great, but similarity in some aspects of the team membership mix is also an additional asset to keep in mind.

10) Work Opportunities – Some team members who work on a virtual basis may want to visit and move to the headquarters of the company or become part of an office environment that also works with virtual members. This should be well understood by the HR department when hiring a team player.

What is Slack?

Slack stands for “Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge”. It’s an app that was launched in August 2013 by Stewart Butterfield, who is also founder of Flickr, the photo sharing website. On that day in August over 8000 customers signed up to use the team messaging app within 24 hours after the launch.

– The app is used as a tool for team collaboration services that are virtual and cloud-based.

– The data can run on free, in-house servers, and there is a secure two-factor authentication format used to access the service provided by Slack.

Sounds like Slack just got lucky, being there at the right time, at the right place with the right people. But, let it be known that Butterfield has spent many hours of his time in coding and developing animation tools. It’s about time he is recognized and emerges from under the radar. He has found a new way for team communication. The design mix, timing and marketing is what made Slack become a “Unicorn” or as so defined; a startup software company whose valuation has exceeded the $1 billion mark.


The content within Slack is searchable, including conversations and files. Slack has also integrated with third-party companies such as Dropbox, Bluemix, Google Drive and Trello, just to mention a few, which support community integration. By December of 2015, Slack had already an app directory of more than 150 integrations that could be installed by its users.

Another interesting feature that Slack users have is a large selection of emoji buttons they can add when messaging their friends or contacts. On the other hand their friends and contacts can express their reactions to those messages by simply clicking on those emoji’s when responding back. It’s as simple as that!

How it works

Joining Slack is done by invitation or by entering a specific URL. These are sent out to other teams, groups and communities via a Slack team administrator. When it started off, Slack was designed to be used for organizational communication, but it has turned into, and has become a community platform similar to LinkedIn and Facebook. The Slack communities can be categorized into topics of interest where discussion groups take place.

Slack is free for an unlimited number of users, although after 8,000 users per channel then there is a paid version which will allow access to more channels and added features. The Slack app is compatible with iOS and Android, as well as for the Apple Watch. Slack even featured on a promotional video for Apple a while ago. Users of Slack say that it just feels, looks and sounds different than the usual competition. And that is exactly what makes this billion dollar company app, so fun to use. It’s no wonder everyone is scratching their head to try to figure out how to reproduce the same type of popularity for their own startup.

By 2015, Slack had over a million daily active users and was recognized as the best startup of the year during the “Crunchies Awards”, organized by TechCrunch: the tech industry online publisher which covers new technology trends. Slack also receives a lot of word of mouth advertising and has over 16,000 users these days.

Skype’s Fascinating History

Skype is an app that provides instant online text messaging, faxing and video chat and conference calling. Best of all it’s free! Users of Skype can choose a nickname of their choice to use the system without having to reveal their identity.

Its original name came from the words: “Sky peer-to-peer”. Later it was shortened to “Skyper”. Domain names using the words “Skyper” were already not available, so the domain name “Skype”, without an “r” on the end, was registered.

Origin and Founders

On August of 2003, Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis who had developed Skype, founded the company in Estonia. As early as February 2004 video conferencing was introduced and by October of 2004 there were already 100,000 Skype users globally and over a million downloads.

By February of 2006, Skype announced PC’s would be able to access 10-way conference calling! That was really something new. Many people were now able to communicate with each other in real time on a virtual platform.

By 2012, nine years after Skype first started, it had near 35 million users at the same time online. These users were spread out all over the world and were able to communicate in a very casual way with each other without the need of going into an office environment. All you needed was a PC or computer monitor and a mic. It was virtual and a very new way of communicating long distance.

Much of the service is free, as long as you can access your data or Wi-Fi connection, and unless you want to contact to a mobile phone or landline; in that case you can get a subscription and will be charged a small fee.

In 2010, Skype launched its service for the Apple iPad and later for other Apple devices, and in October of 2011, Skype launched on Android based devices.

The company became so popular and high in demand that it exchanged ownership a couple times. At one point EBay purchased Skype in September 2005 for over $2 billion and later in May 2011, Microsoft paid $8.5 billion for Skype and is its current owner. Many of the Skype employees or at least 44% are nowadays located in the small European country of Luxembourg.

The Skype app, once installed on any mobile device or computer, provides virtual communication between one or more users and up to 10 users at the same time. Using a webcam and a microphone; anyone can communicate over the internet for free anywhere in the world!

You can see or not be seen; speak to, hear or text your spouse, friend, parent, client, agent, or anyone else you want to via the internet on your smartphone, tablet and computer, wherever you are, anytime of the day or night, in your home or office. Make a reservation to a resort at a faraway destination without having to pay a long-distance phone bill. Skype is a popular and convenient way of staying in touch virtually with your employees or perhaps friends whom you haven’t seen for a very long time.

Skype Popularity

Due to Skype’s overall popularity and ease of access, which is what makes this app so successful, there are endless possibilities of globally connecting anytime and from anywhere. Many network managers and administrators in corporate and government entities are no longer allowing their employees on the job to use Skype during working hours due to abuse and extreme usage of corporate bandwidth and security issues.

The differences between Voice over IP and Skype are that the latter operates using a peer-to-peer level, versus the client-server model, although both require user registration to a server. Also, Skype incorporates characteristics which hide its location, although the goal is not to thwart the analysis towards Skype traffic. People who want to prevent their identity from being disclosed can use Skype for their protection when communicating.

The Best Ways to Keep Virtual Teams Productive

Some companies do not have virtual teams because they feel like it will be hard to keep them productive; however more people are working virtually now than ever before. There are ways to keep the virtual team productive. Many companies even find that they are able to hit goals faster due to teams working in a virtual environment.

The first thing people should do when working with virtual teams is communicating the standards and set the tone for the work environment. People have to know what is expected of them in order to perform at their maximum ability.

Communication among the Team

It is a great idea to create an online space where virtual team members can get to know one another on a more personal basis and find out how they all connect with the team. Spotlighting certain team members is another way to create excellent business culture. Newsletters are another excellent way to continue communication within the team. Many business owners partner new team members with more experienced team members. This way the new and existing team member can get to know one another, build a working relationship, and learn from one another.

Communication Tactics

Since communication is a huge part of any team, communication standards should be addressed from the beginning. Business owners must tell everyone they hire the best ways to communicate with them and with others. This way the communication links will be consistent and everyone will know where to go for information.

In Person Meetings

Although the team may work virtually many business owners invest by having in-person meetings once or twice a year. This is another way for the virtual team to be able to connect on a more personal basis. It may cost more but it still helps to build team morale.

Virtual Meetings

One standard that should be created is having virtual meetings on the same day and time each week. By having these meetings the team will know how everyone is doing on tasks, what is expected and will have the opportunity to see how working together truly helps to make progress. Since all members of the team will be meeting it is important to have overlapping hours that will work with everyone’s schedule. This way everyone will be able to attend a meeting. A meeting that allows for everyone to be on video is ideal. Many people associate being able to see someone as having more of a connection.

Time Tracker

Anyone who has ever worked from home can understand how time can be fleeting. It is a great idea to add some form of time tracker to the daily activities. By keeping up with the time it takes to complete certain tasks everyone can ensure that they are making the best use of their time.

All of these things working together help virtual teams to be the best they can be. They also help to create better team morale. Everyone enjoys the feeling of knowing that they are a part of something. By having all of these keys in place the turnover rate of an organization usually decreases.

How Does Trello Work?

Trello is a tool that organizes projects into boards that are virtually displayed. At a single glance, Trello has listed the what, the who, the where and the when regarding a project. It’s a collaboration app which shows the formation of an entire process within a couple visual panels. It’s effective and very helpful in getting a complicated idea across in an easy-to-understand way.

Trello is an app that was created in 2011 by the Fog Creek Software Company which specializes in the development of project management tools. It’s a web-based project management app which means that any project manager can efficiently plan and organize their company projects by means of virtual communication.

Virtual Convenience

Resource allocation and scheduling, budget estimation, management and cost control, as well as documentation, communication and decision-making can all be done through the web without having to meet or sit in any type of office environment.

On January 9, 2017, Trello was sold to Atlassian, a developer of organization software used by software developers and project managers, for $425 million. These larger productivity software organizations provide application software for the production of such things as:

  • Databases
  • Charts and graphs
  • Digital paintings
  • Documents and Worksheets
  • Presentations
  • Electronic music and digital video

What does the Trello app do?

The Trello app is useful in visualizing workflow, so as to balance capacity versus demand; it also looks out for bottlenecks in the system. The Kanban paradigm method is also used by the Trello app designers to manage projects. It helps participants visualize and view their progress without feeling overload. In this manner team members will also have a complete view of their project from the beginning of the process to the final delivery to the customer.

In 2016, Trello opened its platform to developers who want to integrate their services. There are many work and personal uses for this type of virtual app, including such things as law office leadership cases, real estate management, bulletin boards in schools and lesson planning. The software is Apple and Android compatible. One of their main products is similar to Post-It Notes. It helps the user to put down their thoughts for future referral.

With an estimated 19 million users, Trello provides email-in capacity and solid API for the integration of any product within enterprise systems. It has easy integration with cloud-based services such as Zapier; the web-based service which allows an end-user to merge and integrate web applications, and IFTTT: a free web-based service which creates chains of basic conditional statements or transient applets.

After getting the Trello app installed on your phone or computer, and if and when something important happens, the Trello notification system will contact you instantly. These notifications will sync with all your other devices via email, your desktop and your mobile or handheld gadget.

If you have a due date or checklist, with Trello you will no longer miss your important task, since Trello works real fast and in real time. Cards are used to build the Trello system of organization and so when someone moves a card, that action will show up and move accordingly on your chart. Tabs can be open all the time and there is no need to refresh the page. Opening and loading with the Trello app is a breeze!

In conclusion, a Trello board is a list filled with cards that can be used by teams. It’s the only thing you need to organize for any size project. A Trello team groups people and boards to make it easier to share and collaborate.

Boards can be visible to board members and team members, so that they can put down their votes or comments. The board can also be made visible to team members only. They can be empowered by any team player to show the entire team the project they are working on. On the other hand you can also choose to avoid seeing any one of the team and board members.

EVO – The Collaboration Network



The EVO (Enabling Virtual Organizations) System (
is based on a new distributed architecture, leveraging the 10+ years of experience of developing and operating the large distributed VRVS collaboration system now in production. The primary objective of EVO is to provide an improved system and a service to the LHC and other major High Energy Physics programs that fully meets the requirements for usability, quality, scalability, adaptability to a wide range of working environments, reliability and cost. The EVO infrastructure automatically adapts to the prevailing network configuration and status, so as to ensure that the collaboration service runs without disruption. Because EVO is able to perform end-to-end monitoring, including the end-user’s computer as well as the network infrastructure, we are able to inform the user of any potential or arising problems (e.g. excessive CPU load or packet loss) and, where possible, to fix the problems automatically and transparently on behalf of the user (e.g. by switching to another server node in the network, by reducing the number of video streams received, by adjusting audio volume, etc.). The integration of the MonALISA agent-based system ( into the new EVO architecture was an important step in the evolution of the collaboraton service towards a globally distributed dynamic system that is largely autonomous.
The EVO Client (called Koala) is based on Java and runs on the 3 main Operating Systems used by the scientific community: Windows, Linux and MacOS.ViEVO3DSome of EVO’s features and functions are summarized below:

  • Instant messaging functions and presence information (i.e. available, busy, … )
  • Private or group chat during a meeting
  • Meetings-by-invitation, ad-hoc meetings, booked meetings, and permanent meetings
  • Playback and recording functions (of the entire session[video, audio, whiteboard, Instant Message, Chat,..]


  • Shared files, high resolution sharing of any screen area, and whiteboard functions
  • Support for several standard videoconferencing protocols: H.323(Polycom, Tandberg, …), Session Initiation Protocol (RTP) used by most of the collaborative applications.
  • Automatic TimeZone adjustment and Multi-Language support (English, French, Slovak, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Finnish, and Chinese)
  • Firewall-friendly and support for Network Address Translation (NAT)
  • End-to-End encryption of all the media (video/audio/chat/IM/ …)
  • A new video application based on OpenGL where all the live video windows and other objects are embedded in, and may move in a three dimensional space. (This application, which uses the graphics processor unit (GPU) to offload the main CPU and leave it free for other work, is currently available on Windows only, support for other operating systems will follow soon.)
  • A integrated telephone gateway allows users to join an EVO meeting through the normal phone system

Complete documentation is available. Please read it for a full description of EVO.

Feedback from the user community is very important to us. It allows us to make the system more robust and reliable, and enhance its functionality. Don’t hesitate to send email to us if you are facing any issues. We’ll be glad to help troubleshoot the problem as quickly as possible, and update our documentation or EVO itself where needed, based on this experience.





What are Virtual Teams?

Virtual teams have an old origin even though with the spread of technology it seems that this type of modern workforce is a new concept.

Ever since the creation of the Roman Empire and the coming together of current day military personnel who operate outside of their encampment, virtual teams have always existed.

In brief, geographic dispersal has been the key reason virtual teams are created.

Seven Virtual Teams

Here are the 7 Virtual Teams and a brief synopsis of how they work:

  1. Service Teams – Technical support and service is provided around the clock
  2. Project and Development teams – Decisions for all projects are made by all members
  3. Network Teams – Where a common goal is the purpose for collaboration
  4. A Parallel Team- Where it’s important to find improvements in systems and processes
  5. Work and Production Teams – Performance is ongoing and there is team membership
  6. Functional Oriented Teams – Work with management on a routine basis
  7. Action Teams – Handle emergency response situations

A virtual team refers to a group or collection of individuals who work together from divergent geographic locations. These teams specifically depend on communication technology such as video or voice conferencing, emails and fax, in order to accomplish one or more organizational tasks collectively and without having to be in the same location. The work is predominantly achieved electronically using virtual communication technologies; some team members may never get to meet each other face-to-face.

Team Building

Fiber-optic technology has facilitated the task of creating these virtual teams to communicate off-site in a very effective manner.

The scope of virtual teams is enabling many companies to find and hire the best talent without worrying about geographic location.

There is almost no need for a hierarchy within the business of virtual teams. Teamwork is the modus operandi and everyone is a team player or team leader in their own virtual way.

Many virtual team members have skills that they can share with others and all are accountable for their performance, even if they are geographically dispersed. Some employees work out of the office and others out of their home, but all know their responsibilities and carry their duties in a determined way to make the end result meaningful and well-presented to the client within a deadline.

What are some of the Challenges?

Virtual teams may deal with global time differences for one. Culture and local business customs may dampen the practice between teams. Some may disengage or lose trust; others may lack clarity and lose the cooperation factor. Priorities and goals may remain unclear and brainstorming may not work well in such cases.

Successful Virtual Teams

In order for a virtual connection to take place successfully, here are few things to take into consideration when creating virtual team membership:

  • Team members must become more efficient in team synergy.
  • Members must adapt to, and adopt state-of-the-art technologies available.
  • Resilience to change and being adaptive must be learned.
  • Flexibility is needed regarding responses to organizations and market requirements.
  • Fluidity in team membership and participation in skill assimilation is a must.
  • New members should become seasoned within a determined timeline.

In resume, virtual teams have access to each other and are provided with all types of information on a full-time basis, if necessary, across time and space, via communication technology. Common skills and complementary purposes make virtual teams interdependent in order to achieve perfect performance. Goals are shared and the work approach is such that all are mutually accountable for the success of the team, project, and company that has been established in a virtual team environment.

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