Most managers probably cringe at the thought of letting their virtual team use Facebook at work. It’s perfectly understandable. There’s the worry that social media sites will distract your employees, but Facebook can be a valuable asset to your virtual office. It can give them a place to communicate with one another, and create a productive virtual office environment. Facebook Groups in particular provide many features that can add to a team’s productivity. Let’s look at how to use Facebook groups to improve virtual teamwork:
Set the Ground Rules
Before you even consider letting your virtual employees use Facebook, you should set some guidelines for its use. Make it clear from the beginning that Facebook is meant to be used as a business tool, not for personal use while your virtual team works. You could even have your employees set up a “professional” Facebook account. Set up managers or “Ambassadors” within each part of your company to monitor and encourage activity on Facebook. They can make sure that your company rules are being followed, and also encourage their fellow employees to contribute to the Facebook Group. Also note that the rules you set will depend on your industry. For example, if you’re a marketing related company, you may have to have your team be active on social media to catch trends.
Use Discussion Boards
Facebook Groups are a great way to keep your team connected. Anyone can post on the discussion board, and anyone can comment on the post. It creates an open discussion for ideas and projects. You can also keep track of who has seen the posts. Anytime someone makes a post, Facebook automatically notifies everyone in the group. Your virtual office team will either get a notification on their Facebook App, or see the notification when they log in on their computers. This keeps communication flowing within a virtual office team.
The polling option in Facebook Groups allow you to create a poll where members of the group can vote. You can use this feature to vote on which ideas or concepts to use for your next project.
Facebook Groups come with their own Instant Messaging system for the group. The chat can include everyone from the group, or a few individuals. It works like any other IM system. Having a chat-box specifically tied to your Facebook Group makes it easier to contact your team.
Organizing team meetings is easy through Facebook Groups. Anyone in the group can create an event. This makes a new page in the group where those invited can view the date, time, and location of the event. The team can post updates on the event on the page.
Alternatives to Facebook Groups
Every business is different. If you feel like Facebook isn’t a good fit for your virtual team, that’s okay! There are many other communication and instant messaging apps that can work, called Enterprise Social Networks. Yammer is a professional social network that runs similarly to Facebook. It’s a private social network for your business. Some other sites include: Chatter a site that lets your team collaborate on projects, create tasks for your company, and stay in contact with each other; Podio which is essentially a combination of Google Docs and Facebook in that your team can upload documents in a secure server and have open discussions; and Socialcast which keeps your team focused on specific tasks and keeps them engaged with one another through real-time communication.