Use Skype Chats to Create a Virtual Office
Skype chats are extremely useful if you want to create a virtual office with staff from all over the world. Our own family business has for several years used the Skype chats in the daily work, to facilitate the contact between team members who are not in the same room - or even in the same country.
My company develops and sells software that add some functionality on top of Microsoft Office, SharePoint and Exchange. We also have our technical staff in India, Russia and Sweden, while my husband and I take care of administration, documentation and support from our home in Spain. Therefore, a lot of communication is needed within this dispersed group, and our main tool is the Skype chat. Our common language is English, which we all know fairly well. We try to keep it proper and not use too many abbreviations.
Each day several chats are used by the team. We have one group chat for all staff members and another one for the support handling. The support chat is very active, since support questions often have to be discussed within the team. Say that a customer has a problem with TimeCard, the application that lets users report time and expenses from within the Outlook Calendar. There is a general discussion in the support chat, and then it continues in a separate chat between a developer and a tester. When they have found a solution they come back to the support chat and tell the rest of the group what should be done.
A great advantage with chatting compared to talking is that you get everything documented. With the chat history and search function it is easy to go back and look what was actually said. We never have to appoint a secretary for our virtual meetings ‒ the attendants take care of it themselves. Important information must be copied and saved elsewhere though, since chat history follows the computer, not the Skype account. If I change to a new machine, I can copy the log manually and continue using it, but if I use several computers in my work, this shortcoming is a problem. I wish I could see all chat history for my account from any computer, like I do with the contacts, and I hope this feature will be added in a future version of Skype.Continued on the next page