More and more often, small business owners tell us they’re collaborating regularly with teams from all corners of the world. Agencies, employees and consultants working on the same project can be thousands of miles apart.
Sound familiar? For growing numbers of workers, a scenario like this is the norm. Employees and work colleagues once just a cubicle away now frequently reside in different cities or on other continents. Separated by distance, time zones and language, intra-team communication can become an exercise in frustration and futility.
One solution many are finding helpful: ongoing Skype Group Chats. It’s easy to get started, and even easier to manage. You simply start a group chat, add the people relevant to a particular project or work unit, and participants contribute ongoing comments, whenever and wherever.
Skype business users who rely on these persistent chats point to several benefits:
- They’re easier to keep organized and review than long email chains.
- They remove pressure to respond immediately.
- It’s simpler to handle written text when different languages are involved.
- It’s easy to move conversations into private sidebar Skype chats if they’re no longer relevant to the group.
Check out the video below to help get you started.
Other tips to making ongoing group chats a success:
- Give your group a descriptive, current name (eg Acme Marketing Team). Once you’ve set it up, and go to Conversations > Rename at the top of the conversation box to name it. You may need to change the name — to Acme Communications Team, say — if the topic or participants change.
- Ask your team to get out of the email habit, and instead share information and ask questions in the group.
- Ask members to save the group in their contacts by right clicking on the conversation and selecting Save Group in Your Contacts. You can find all your groups at the bottom of your contact list. If you’re on a Mac, click the star next to the group name to add it to your Favorites.
- Segregate sub-conversations into their own ongoing group chats, and name appropriately. A conversation about one specific product launch, for instance, may warrant its own group with a smaller cadre of participants, eg Acme Widget Launch – 2012.
- Remove participants promptly when they leave the company or are no longer relevant to that group. Only the organizer can remove other people, by right-clicking on a participant’s name and choosing Remove Person From This Group. All participants can remove themselves by right-clicking the group name and choosing Leave Conversation. If the organizer is no longer relevant, start the group fresh with a new organizer.
Many Skype users tell us their ongoing group chats have lasted years, and are invaluable for sharing information and making decisions. Do you have your own group chat story? Tell us, in the comments below – or join the conversation in the Skype for Business groups on Facebook or LinkedIn.