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Ask Dan
How do I create a sense of teamwork among my staff when many of them are scattered across the country?
Communication technology has made it easy to work as far apart as Milwaukee and Mongolia, but working as a team from those distances is another thing entirely.

Fortunately, the same technology that enables you to work remotely can bring you closer together. The key is employing these tools to maintain regular contact with each other, both individually and as a team. First, for one-to-one communications, encourage your staff to use programs such as Skype, which allow you to make video calls with your computer or smartphone, using the device's microphone and webcam or camera to talk to and see each other. Skype is free.

Next, for group communications, I suggest a weekly conference call, which would allow you to hear each other as well as interact together. Once you've attended to business, don't hang up – use that opportunity to socialize a bit and talk about what's going on in each other's lives. Additionally, you could use group-messaging apps such as GroupMe, which lets you create a kind of private chat room for staff. GroupMe is also free of charge.

Finally, set up an intranet team page on your company website. This can become an informal forum to kick around ideas on particular projects, or just a place to socialize. Your team members might be far flung, but with these tools, they can at least feel like they're nearby.

Dan Lumpkin, organizational psychologist, is the president of management-consulting company Lumpkin & Associates in Fairhope, AL. Need answers? Email your career-related questions to askdan@exhibitormagazine.com.
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