Over the past four+ years I have done a lot of work with remote teams. My remote lifestyle has worked as an employee for a company where most employees were on site and as a consultant with national and international partners and clients. I've found working remotely becomes easier, almost daily.
Here's what I've learned:
Face-to-Face meetings are different.
The nature of my face-to-face meetings have changed. Routine meetings can easily happen through video chats and calls. Many of my in-person meetings happen in casual scenarios, frequently over lunch, a coffee or a beer.
Video chatting makes meetings more productive.
Recent changes to Google Hangouts have made the hangouts easier to schedule and join. This has increased the number of video chats I have on a weekly basis. When video chatting, I often forget that my collaborators are in another state -- or country.
Collaboration tools make sharing ideas more fun.
Project management tools are plentiful.
Social media continues to help.
Twitter and Facebook still help with the water cooler conversation you miss when you are not in an office every day. Twitter and Facebook continue to be just as much of a distraction as a really fun, smart co-worker. Geo-location tools like Foursquare continue to help co-workers keep up with your location.
Infrastructure investments are worth it.
Cloud computing, a tiny laptop for travel and a giant desktop for my office make it very easy for me to keep files organized and readily available. Some airlines are redesigning their space to make it friendlier for traveling workers.
Since most of my partners are in another city, where I am working doesn't matter. I frequently work from home, co-working spaces and at the offices of my clients.
How has technology helped you collaborate with your team?