What is it like to lead a virtual team? What are the high points? What are the challenges? For the past three years we have been chronicling our experiences in a series of monthly blog posts and podcasts.
About the authors: Martin Hawksey (@mhawksey) and Maren Deepwell (@marendeepwell) work for ALT, the Association for Learning Technology, independent charity and leading professional body for Learning Technology in the UK. Martin is the Chief Officer for Innovation, Technology and Community and Maren is the Chief Executive.
2020 – pandemic posts
- How we survived a pandemic: Part 4 – Virtual pizza nights and other distributed team social activities
- How we survived a pandemic: Part 3 – Ups and Downs (and sideways) of life as a virtual team
- How we survived a pandemic: Part 2 – Music, spice and other things nice
- How we survived a pandemic: Part 1 – No kind of normal
2020 – regular posts
- Virtual Teams: moving parts – This month we start our third year as a virtual team and we talk about the ups and downs of moving house as home workers, how to give yourself a break during times of upheaval and supporting each other.
- Virtual Teams: The heartbeat of a virtual team – This month we are talking about Slack, scheduling team meetings, and how our use of technology and different tools affect the rhythm of our work as a virtual team.
- Podcast 1: our first podcast, looking back at the first six months as a virtual team.
- Podcast 2: recorded at the end of our first year of this project, we look back at some of the highs and lows, plan for what’s ahead and discuss how you do Secret Santa as a virtual team.
- Podcast 3: in which we discuss @femedtech and equality as well as International Women’s Day.
- Podcast 4: reflections on what it means to be professional as a home worker in a virtual team and how we approach professional development
- Podcast 5: we talk about how we as a digitally and geographically distributed team connect face to face and why we think a blended approach is important.
- Podcast 6: This time we are joined by our special guest, Olaf Hubel G Suite Developer Relations Team Leader at Google. Together we talk about what it takes to lead a virtual team, collaboration and team communication.
Previous posts… 2019
- Virtual Teams: Finding Oxygen with Olaf Hubel at Google – podcast special 2019 – This time we are joined by our special guest, Olaf Hubel G Suite Developer Relations Team Leader at Google. Together we talk about what it takes to lead a virtual team, collaboration and team communication.
- Virtual Teams: CPD and CO2 – This time we talk about staff benefits and CPD opportunities for virtual teams, the environmental impact of work travel and discuss the advantages of connecting both virtually and in person.
- Virtual Teams #OEB19 preview: Leading Change through Open Conversational Digital Practice – preview post for a conference session, where we’ll be discussing why this kind of practice should happen in the open and why it is important; why and how you, as a learning professional/educator, can try to adopt this approach; and what the barriers you may encounter are.
- The ALT Virtual Teams Stack – a related post by Martin Hawksey, sharing the technology and services we use to support our distributed team, aka ‘The ALT Stack’.
- Virtual Teams outtakes: Home-worker / house-worker… – this post is me thinking out loud about how working from home can lead to doing a lot of housework. I reflect on how to avoid being landed with all the chores because you are based at home and how maybe you can make housework work for you for reclaiming some balance.
- Virtual Teams: Strategy unpacked… how being a virtual team is changing our organisation – this time we talk about how much strategic progress we have made in the last few years and how being a virtual team has contributed to that. We also discuss our values as an organisation, how we have tried to reduce our impact on the environment and the upsides of being geographically distributed.
- Virtual Teams: The perfect blend? Bringing the skills of distributed teams to face-to-face events (special podcast edition) – This time we talk about how we as a digitally and geographically distributed team connect face to face and why we think a blended approach is important.
- Virtual Teams: Creativity Hacks for Virtual Teams (and why we maybe do like emoji after all) – This time we get creative as we share our favourite ways to have some fun, create, collaborate and share. We also have another think about emoji.. which a year ago we gave a rather cold review.
- Virtual Teams outtakes: Heatwave home-working – in this post, which is an ‘outtake’ from my regular series of Virtual Teams posts with Martin Hawksey, I share some of our experiences and tips for home-working during a heatwave…
- Virtual Teams: It’s good to keep in touch …. most of the time 😉 – This time we touch base after both being on international duty for ALT and discuss how our use of social networks often gets blurred between personal and professional. We also think about the role of social media in virtual teams and how social media can be useful for bridging work and social lives, including the challenges this brings to striking the right balance.
- Virtual Teams: Stickers, “I love me” walls, CPD and travel (also, this is really about recruitment) – This time we’re talking about how we recruit new staff, what it’s like to carry out a virtual selection process and how that led to interesting reflections on what it means to be professional as a home worker in a virtual team and how we approach professional development.
- Virtual Teams: Applying order to chaos – This time we’re talking about team culture, upgrading workflows, the ISO9001 Standard, the MIT90s Framework, our dislike of management terminology and the impact of being busy on communication and collaboration as a virtual team.
- Virtual Teams: Things that don’t look broken still need fixing – we discuss equality, online collaboration and ‘The Open Organization Leaders Manual’.
- Virtual Teams: special #femedtech podcast edition – we share our reflections on how to promote equality in a distributed organisation and our joint keynote for the University of the Highlands and Islands on International Women’s Day 2019.
- Virtual Teams: When things get personal – we talk about professional development, meeting around a collaborative document, share tips for online meetings and examine the impact of your set up for home working.
- Virtual teams: a special podcast edition – With the transition to becoming a distributed organisation and one year of leading our virtual team under our belt, we reflect on the highs and lows, the good and the bad and most importantly on what’s ahead as we continue to develop this project in open practice.
- Virtual Teams: Checklists, kindness and Secret Santa – nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more -we discuss checklists, how each of our staff invented their own scale to rate their week and treating others with kindness.
- Virtual Teams: Remote crisis – we discuss ways in which we could develop our approach to virtual team leadership including dealing with critical incidents when you have a distributed workforce. Rather than sharing what we found works, we open up some of the questions we have and consider how we might find solutions that support sustainable development for a small virtual team.
- The serious upsides of working in pyjamas –we discuss some of the more serious upsides to home working.
- Pizza and virtual team dynamics –We are at the end of the busiest month of our organisation’s year in the run up to our Annual Conference. Getting here is a big milestone for our organisation and a real test for our approach to leading a virtual team.
- Special podcast edition: Reflecting on the first six months leading a virtual team –We’re six months into our journey and in this special edition we look back at the highs and lows, share practical things we’ve learnt along the way and take our conversation from post to podcast to help us reflect and look ahead.
- Virtual team, face to face team day: putting our blended approach to the test –Last time we discussed how we used GDPR as an opportunity to strengthen how we work as a virtual team. Since then we had our first face to face team day, an important milestone in creating a blended approach to running a virtual organisation.
- Opportunity knocks: Using GDPR to strengthen virtual teams –This month we discuss our approach to GDPR, evolving virtual working practices and the importance of explaining the reasons for new procedures as part of implementing them.
- 3 months in… hitting our first milestones as a virtual team –This month we reflect on the first 3 months operating as a virtual team, delivering our first few big milestones and look back at the OER18 conference.
- Developing collaboration as a virtual team –This is the second in a monthly series of blog posts in which we take an open approach to organisational transformation. In this series we share our experiences as senior staff leading our organisation to adopt virtual operations.
- An open perspective on organisational transformation? –In this post we look back at February, the first month of virtual operations, sharing our perspectives on making a start as a distributed team.