Intel’s Secrets to Virtual Team Success

A lesson in online collaboration from the best.

A Global Collaboration Trendsetter

Everyone knows Intel as the company who builds microprocessors that tell your computer how to function. What you may not know is that they are also trendsetters in global collaboration systems. Successfully, they created a system of virtual teams by focusing on two core functions:

#1 Personal Productivity

This refers to the applications that allow for their employees to connect quickly one-to-one with people all around the world. By improving these systems, bottlenecks in communication have been drastically reduced. No longer do Intel’s employees have to wait for someone to get back to their desk before they can get the information they need to do their job.

Examples: Instant messaging, Google Docs, and softphones.

#2 Team Collaboration

These are the applications and systems in place to generate collaborative environments in the virtual sphere. Within this virtual meeting ground, Intel employees can share ideas, provide project updates, request help, and organize big projects into manageable tasks that can be easily delegated.

Examples: video conferencing, collaboration platforms, data-sharing tools, chatrooms for mobile devices.

In the first quarter of 2014, Intel reported income of over $12.8 billion. As of December 28th of 2013, Intel had 107, 600 employees worldwide (according to their 2013 annual report.) How does a company that is so large with such a significant revenue stream manage employees that are located in over 60 countries?

Virtual Collaboration Systems are the Answer

About two thirds of Intel’s teams have members that are working virtually. That is an incredible number! We are talking about a massive corporation that is able to coordinate a majority of their projects between different locations. With those numbers, it is probable that two or three Intel employees are connecting via a satellite flying over your head as you read this.

So what can we learn from Intel? Well, they’ve clearly unlocked the secret to successful online collaboration with virtual teams. So we did our research and these are the core reasons that this virtual system works so well for Intel:

#1 Secure the data

This is not the first place that many people start because we can’t conceptualize how these virtual connections are possible. Many people have learned the hard way through the numerous Internet security threats we see on the news almost daily. Make sure that you are using a secure network connection while you are discussing potentially sensitive information. Most people don’t care about this until it’s too late.

#2 Work with a broad set of integrated collaboration tools

Humans are to collaboration as technologies are to integration. It is no surprise that collaboration tools are often designed to work well with other collaboration tools. As we discussed in the first paragraph, Intel categorizes tools into two groups, personal productivity and team collaboration. (Platforms like Redbooth combine personal and team collaboration tools on one platform that can be easily integrated with a number of secure data sharing services.) Give your employees the tools they need to succeed.

#3 Offer flexibility to employees

Intel works in over 60 countries. That means that there are often drastically different time zones involved. This makes the standard 9-5 work week subject to interpretation. Allow virtual teams you manage to coordinate meetings on their own. It is important to maintain time tables with bench marks and due dates. However, give your teams the flexibility to figure out when and how they will work on it. This will improve job satisfaction and employee engagement.

#4 Adapt and Improve

It is not going to be a perfect science right off the bat. The goal is to create seamless collaboration.

It important to communicate with your employees to find out what is and isn’t working. Identify bottlenecks in operations, research new and improved applications, and lead by example. It will take time, persistence, and patience, but it is possible and the results are proven. If Intel is able to do it with their 100,000 employees, there is no reason why any size of business can’t implement a successful virtual collaboration system. In fact, there is no reason that you can’t build something better.

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