Top Tips for Managing a Virtual Network
Like many initiatives , Community Education Provider Networks (CEPNs) and Training Hubs operate as a virtual network with staff working remotely.
Because of this setup, it’s easy to go weeks without seeing members of the operational team, relying on email as the main source of communication. However, in order to generate the same effectiveness of a team sharing the same physical space, we recommend:
1. Making the time to informally Meet Up.
Getting to know team members beyond the scope of the project is hugely important for developing interpersonal relationships, and in the long-term will help build the foundations of an effective team.
To feel as though we know and trust our colleagues will make communications flow that little bit easier, support comradery and build a friendly working environment.
It doesn’t have to be expensive but does require a little bit of effort to coordinate schedules and doing this at the start of your network will definitely give you a jump start.
2. Schedule Regular Project Updates
Whilst working with Richmond CEPN, I met with the Clinical Lead every 2 weeks. These meetings were hugely productive keeping us both on track and updated with the various streams of work. Set up as reoccurring entries in our schedules, these meetings were rarely cancelled.
In order to work remotely, we strongly believe you need to make the time for some face-to-face engagement. This also helped us to cut down on the volume of email traffic as quite often we could save email discussions for our fortnightly updates.
If regular face-to-face meetings aren’t feasible then we recommend setting up Skype or conference calls.
3. Share Information Centrally
Sharing; reports, training information, newsletters, project plans, etc. helps create effective operating systems, saves time, promotes transparency and makes sharing information easier.
Asana, Dropbox, websites are excellent tools to aid this.
3. Promote, Share and Market
Commit to regularly promoting, sharing and marketing your network.
Newsletters, websites, blog posts and engagement events are all tried and proven methods for effective stakeholder engagement. People need to know what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and the impact you are making.
Check out our 4 key activities for effective stakeholder engagement for more guidance, advice and tips.
Beware….. Don’t let the lack of communication be the downfall of your network.
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