This section describes in more detail the tools mentioned in the Tips section. We start with a sketch of the ideal office workspace. We then present various tools that are important to the virtual team or telecommuter for improving communications and data sharing. The following are currently the best technologies to help a virtual team be more effective:
- Phone Conferencing—for the most critical aspect of teamwork: audio communications
- Instant Messaging—for staying connected in real-time.
- Desktop Sharing—for sharing project data and ideas
- Whiteboard—for brainstorming, conveying concepts, and generating creative ideas
- Team Spaces—for storage and sharing of project data, calendars, task lists, etc.
- Calendaring & Scheduling—for scheduling meetings and events
For advanced virtual teams or telecommuters, there are several other tools that can enhance performance even more:
- Graphics tablet—greatly enhances brainstorming and sketching when used with a good collaborative whiteboard.
- Voice over IP (VoIP)—provides low-cost voice communications from PC to PC, anywhere in the world
- Dual displays—virtual workers need a lot of computer display space
- Speech recognition—makes instant messaging faster
For more on each of these tools, click a topic above or in the left navigation list.