After a PC with a high-speed connection, the telephone is the next most important tool in the home office. While the computer visually connects the virtual team, the telephone audibly connects them.
First, the company needs to publish a telephone number for every virtual worker. This information may long survive after an employee no longer works for a company, so family telephone numbers should not be used. In addition, calls may come in at all hours, so arrange for a second telephone number at home. An alternative is a cellular telephone dedicated to this work. In both cases, an unlimited outbound long distance capability is needed. In the case of the cell phone, there must be unlimited minutes. Many teleconferences run more than an hour. Participate in a few of these each week, and the minutes provided with most cell phones are long gone.
Telephone ear is that numb sensation from holding a telephone instrument to your ear for long periods of time. To avoid this, obtain a headset and or a speaker. In either cases, include a mute button. This also frees your hands to take notes (or to do other work) during an endless phone call.
Every virtual team member should be assigned a teleconference number so that they can arrange meetings as needed. This simplifies arranging meetings and allows members to get together for short chats.
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