Monthly Archives: October 2014

Lessons from Batman: Virtual Teams 1

Batman can teach us many things: persistence, preparedness, and a mean jump kick. It came as a bit of a surprise when I realized he also exhibited some necessary elements of participating in a virtual (remote) team! Batman may fight crime alone but he definitely does not work completely singlehanded.

I have been working with a virtual (remote) team at Epiphany for more than 7 years; managing for more than 4. Over that time I have fluctuated between believing that a virtual environment was an unconquerable obstacle to the greatest idea since batarangs. I have settled into the belief that, like most systems, there are strong points and weak areas that need to be considered.

1. Reachable

Batman does not have a public phone number; but there is a well-known failsafe way to reach him – The Bat Signal. While the system sprung up organically, Batman always responds to the Bat-Signal; ensuring that he can be reached anytime (or at least on cloudy nights).
Working remotely can be a very isolating endeavor, for many people it is ‘Out of sight, out of mind’. Remember you aren’t locked in ‘Arkham Asylum’! You should feel comfortable reaching out to colleges, and also be available and reachable yourself. Regardless if the topic is work related or simply personal, the team should know you are around and can be signaled into action. You may not be able to respond immediately; but strive to respond when you can.

2. Consistent Schedule

Same Bat-Time, Same Bat-Channel. Batman knows that some consistent meetings can drastically help to ensure teams grow; this counts double for virtual teams. You can bet Batman doesn’t skip his workout, along a similar vein you should not skip team meetings.
I have found that a daily team meeting is critical to ensure a cohesive team in a virtual environment. This ensures there is a set time for the team to get together and discuss issues and current project statuses. It also helps ensure that there is some outside contact for each person, it is all too easy to realize that an entire workday was spent working alone. While those workdays can be productive, if there are an increasing number it can wear down even the most resilient of people.