So in the second module of my Squared Online course, the cohort was split into smaller groups or ‘virtual teams’ to work on a business proposal and value proposition. I was pretty excited by this as I love thinking of innovative business ideas but none of my previous musings had ever really materialised. There were 7 people in my group whom all seemed to be interesting and ambitious to do well in this project which is always a plus. At this point I didn’t really appreciate just how hard it may be to gather everyone for virtual meetings and to make group decisions which was, at times, quite difficult. Different time zones, work commitments and lifestyles all had to be considered and planned around.
I think we were allocated around a month to discuss and complete this project and to make matters worse, I had planned to travel during the final week so I was very aware that time was limited….and everything was still left to the last week ha! We democratically chose which business proposal we would take forward to develop, present and eventually submit in a very short period of time and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t at all worried about missing the deadline – nonetheless the group came together in an awesome way and I think we pretty much nailed it! From this experience, there are a few bits of advice I would give to anyone working in a virtual team for the first time:
- Decide on your main communication platform straight away. There are so many options such as Google Hangouts (which didn’t work great for us), Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, FaceTime etc etc etc. We wasted a few meetings playing around with different platforms which meant that deadlines were pushed back and the pressure was increased to get the job done in little time.
- Set deadlines for the various milestones of your project at the start. We tended to set deadlines for the next stage as and when we completed the previous stage but again, this wastes time. Setting deadlines for each stage of the process at the beginning removes the need for conversations during meetings about when to complete the next task when you should be discussing the content of the project.
- Be patient. Everything will not run smoothly. It just wont, and that’s fine. You need to be prepared to accept that people aren’t perfect and sometimes our lives get in the way and the quicker this is accepted, the happier you and your team will be (:
- Speak up. Before working in this virtual team I was relatively tentative about airing my opinions and ideas in fear of sounding stupid or not being able to explain myself. However, due to the nature of the project I pretty much had no choice than to present my idea for our business that we would present and i’m glad I did, because we actually ended up using my idea which was really cool (: So speak up because your idea may be the best one!
- Enjoy meeting new people. Being a serial introvert, I wasn’t particularly enthralled by the idea of 7 strangers being thrust into my daily life but I actually really enjoyed it. I was lucky to meet some people in Hong Kong and Munich whom I would have never met before so my advice would be to enjoy the social side of being in a team just as much as the success you develop together (:
On a side note, if you are reading this and happen to have read a previous post of mine, then you might have noticed the more colloquial, laid back writing style (or maybe not) – but I’ve just decided that there are already loads of news like blogs and people trying to sound smarter than they usually are so I’m just going to write what I want to and in the way I want to without caring about the number of readers – it’s more fun that way (: