4 Tools to Help Your Team Collaborate Across Distances

How do you build and maintain a successful company with a great culture across five office hubs, two time zones

3 min. read

How do you build and maintain a successful company with a great culture across five office hubs, two time zones and two countries? At Torrent, it’s a question we face every day.

Not all that long ago, it wouldn’t have been possible. That’s because our best answers? They’re all relatively new technologies. From video chats to Salesforce Chatter, we rely on digital means to make meaningful connections across distances.

In this post, we’ll highlight some of our favorite tools with the hope that they’ll help your company connect in some of the same ways.

Collaboration Tool #1: Live-streaming Video Feeds

At the heart of each Torrent hub, you’ll find a huge TV displaying live video feeds from every other office. Which means that as I write these words, I can see my coworkers in Charlotte, Springfield, D.C. and Antigua (hey, Luis), and they can see me.

To an outsider, this might seem like a gimmick — techy window dressing meant to make us look cool. Or, for the paranoids out there, Big Brother-style surveillance.

In reality, it’s a gathering place.

Each morning, we come together around these screens for a company-wide standup meeting. During these meetings, we share customer and employee spotlights, financial reports, process updates, announcements and more. By collecting in this way, we’re reminded of Torrent’s full scope as a team: the faces, voices and personalities that make us who we are.

Without them, I’m not sure how we’d ever feel like a true whole.

Collaboration Tool #2: Leaderboards

LevelEleven positions itself as a “sales management system that reinforces the fundamental behaviors that lead to closing business.” Their suite of softwares and services is vast and varied, but our favorite for communication is their Channel11 TV broadcast solution.

Let me paint a picture: several wall-mounted TVs positioned across the office. Each screen displays announcements, sales leaderboards, company metrics and more, all on a continuous loop. And because the sales figures and dashboards are drawn directly from Salesforce, they reflect up-to-the-minute accuracy.

As a result, our full team has constant access to company news and the numbers that make Torrent run.

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Collaboration Tool #3: Video Calls

There’s been some debate about exactly how much of a role nonverbal cues play in interpersonal communication, but everybody seems to agree that it’s a pretty big one. Our facial expressions, gestures and movements all say a great deal.

And they’re all lost on a phone call. Which is why we use Zoom instead.

Every time we need to talk to a co-worker in another office, we set up a video call. As a relatively new employee, it would be hard for me to overemphasize how helpful this has been in getting to know my coworkers in other hubs. Just this week, a few members of our executive team flew in from our other locations. And even though I’d yet to meet these people, I felt as though I already knew them.

Beyond that, Zoom calls help us avoid miscommunications and the awkward, talk-over-everybody dynamics of traditional conference calls.

Collaboration Tool #4: Written Communication Tool

What’s missing from the above? A written communication channel. And, surprisingly, I’m not talking about email.

Rather than clogging up each other’s inboxes, we convey announcements, questions and shout-outs through Salesforce Chatter, which functions something like a cross between company intranet, collaboration tool and team directory.

Chatter messages can be directed to particular people or groups, allow for attachments and feature comment threads and likes. Perhaps most importantly, Chatter doubles as an archive of key Torrent info.

Because we harness the power of these technologies, geographic distance never jeopardizes Torrent’s business or its culture. If your multi-location organization is struggling to communicate in effective ways, you might want to consider some of the tools mentioned here.

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