The universe may be constantly expanding, but our world continues to shrink with each passing technological innovation.  It’s hard to believe that many of us were born into the arms of the waning Industrial Age, set out on the road of adult life during the Age of Information, and then looked up one day to find that we’d taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque, and ended up somewhere in the middle of the Global Village!  With so much changing so fast in our profession, we must be more agile in everything, from keeping up with the latest trends in learning to communicating with teams across our organizations. 

Virtual teams allow us to have many hands working on the same project in different locations.  The benefits are incredible: increased perspective from diverse team members, shorter turnaround time for projects, and more flexibility in scheduling (which affects how we serve our customers).  For all the benefits, the performance of virtual teams is largely influenced by communication.  And communication, as we all know, can be facilitated or hampered by technology. 

Communicating within a virtual team isn’t difficult with the right tools in place, and you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars for the latest iteration of Sharepoint to be effective.  There are several free tools available to get your virtual team moving at full speed.  Try Mind 42, a dynamic, free, web-based tool for collaborative brainstorming.  Manage your team’s projects with BackPack.  For collaborative writing, check out Writeboard, which keeps a version history of documents and it integrates with BackPack.  There are several other tools like Basecamp and ZohoPlanner that virtual teams can also leverage.       

Take advantage of these free tools and begin to explore the virtues of virtual teams.