Remote work has increased by 44 percent over the past five years and by more than 90 percent over the last 10, according to a recent analysis. Not surprisingly, virtual teams are on the rise. They exist in almost any type of company, though no two are exactly alike. Some organizations have staff in multiple office locations, with teams collaborating across time zones and oceans. In others, team members may share a physical office, but individuals are constantly “on the go,” juggling client meetings, sales calls and personal obligations.

While these situations might be different, the problems are the same. With fewer in-person meetings and less face-to-face time, organizations risk slower decision-making and falling productivity.

That’s why everyone who manages a virtual team faces a common question: How do you keep productivity up despite the lack of in-person interaction? In a survey we recently conducted on workplace productivity and communications technology, one-third of respondents said better communications with geographically dispersed groups could increase personal productivity by 15 percent.

Cloud technology, for example, can help team members juggle myriad obligations with ease. Portable and versatile, a cloud business phone solution, such as MiCloud Connect, provides remote team members with on-the-go access to powerful collaboration tools like shared workspaces and web chat. Virtual teams no longer have to worry about communication gaps or missed deadlines. Instead, they collaborate with ease and make decisions faster.

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If you’re eager to find new ways to raise your virtual team’s productivity, consider these four tips for improving communications and collaboration with a cloud business phone.

A cloud business phone fosters collaboration

1. Mirror in-person meetings with video.

More than half of survey respondents said they consider in-person meetings to be the most effective means of communication. While this isn’t an option for virtual teams, a cloud business phone system with video conferencing can achieve a similar result by mimicking in-person meetings. Your team will be just as productive as if they were sitting in the same room. However, employees need access to video in all environments, including desktop, conference rooms and, of course, mobile. How else can you ensure everyone can join a conference at any time, no matter where they are geographically or what device they use?

In the past, there’s been some resistance to video, largely stemming from difficult navigation and low-quality images. People wasted time and got distracted by glitches and technical issues. But cloud business phone technology has evolved and is now much easier to use. For example, a single click is all that’s required to join your video conference with today’s tools. Advanced features like screen sharing and an agenda tracker keep meetings moving smoothly and on-task. And with a dependable vendor like Mitel, you can be sure a secure, reliable connection will keep your team focused without wasting time on troubleshooting.

2. Turn shared workspaces into virtual productivity powerhouses.

Seventy percent of survey respondents consider online shared workspaces to be an effective and efficient means of communications. An online collaborative workspace allows teams to exchange ideas about a specific project or topic using multiple communications methods including messaging, voice and video – all integrated into a single interface. It doesn’t matter whether you’re working from your home office, are on a business trip to London or even checking in from a beach house on your family vacation. Everyone on your team has instant access to the latest project updates and can stay in the know no matter where they are. Team members can create and assign tasks, share files and even take a conversation from online to a conference in mere seconds.

A personal dashboard, like the one provided in Mitel Teamwork, gives you a real-time view of items needing your attention, ensuring that projects and discussions are always moving forward. You can say goodbye to never-ending email chains and stop the painful search for answers in your inbox.

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3. Keep the conversation going with web, desktop and mobile applications.

If your employees can’t communicate with you, they aren’t being productive. A cloud business phone not only provides rich PBX features such as voicemail transcription, call forwarding and call transfer, it gives your team options. Softphone, mobile and IP desk phones, mobile app support for PC, Mac, Android and iOS, along with Siri integration and Bluetooth capabilities, provide a seamless experience across all devices.

4. Optimize virtual project management with collaboration tools.

With team members scattered around the globe, it can seem nearly impossible to keep a project on track. Of course, personal dashboards and shared workspaces make project management easier, but other online collaboration tools are worth a mention.

Managers and team members always have their pulse on what’s happening since conversations are mirrored across all devices in real time. The ability to store and archive data by project, subject or person keeps you organized and makes it easy to find answers when you need to refresh your memory. Have an urgent question? Ad-hoc audio and video conferencing connects you to the right person instantly. Individual and group chat allow you to keep conversations private or take them to the larger group as needed. The suite of collaboration tools available empowers you to take any project from start to finish in record time.

Virtual teams present unique challenges. You may be in different time zones or moving from one location (and device) to another. Demolish all disconnect with constantly open lines of communication. A cloud business phone, like MiCloud Connect, provides the powerful collaboration tools your virtual team needs to get more done in less time – the very definition of higher productivity.

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