How to manage a group or team online

Building and developing a team or group from scratch can be a challenge – but a satisfying one at that. From encouraging new members to join to effectively communicating messages, managing a group comes with lots of responsibility.

Online forums and communities are a fantastic way to maintain the growth of your group and encourage others to get involved. They’re also great for staying in touch with current members – especially during a time of national crisis, such as the Coronavirus pandemic.

It’s especially important to continue interacting with your team, group, or club during the lockdown period, as this will maintain relationships, helping to promote healthy conversations and protect individuals’ mental health.

There are various ways you can successfully keep everyone involved. We’ve provided just a few ideas below.

Disclaimer: Please note, there are possible security issues when using any video sharing software. You should follow the recommended guidelines provided by the software companies to ensure your personal data and information are kept secure.

1. Utilise free video software

It’s time to take advantage of some of the incredible technology we have at our disposal. With just an internet connection and a smartphone, you can connect to the rest of the world around you and keep in touch with friends, family, and your community groups.

 

Skype

When it comes to video calls, Skype is old school. It’s not as flash as other software or apps on the market, but it’s free and allows you to contact anyone else with a Skype account. You can also add a lot of people to one call, which is ideal for groups. The software works on both desktop and smartphone too, so can be used by almost anyone.

Laptop showing skype call

Google Hangouts

If your team members are bit more technologically savvy and already have a Google account i.e. Gmail, then jumping on a Google Hangout video call might be the way forward. It’s free to use and you can add more than one person to a call, just by inviting them through a link. The only downside to Hangouts it’s not the best app for multiple people, as it’s tricky to see everyone on one screen at the same time.

Google Hangouts View

Zoom

Zoom is currently a very popular option for many companies and organisations. The one downside to the software is that the free version only allows you to stay on a call for 40 minutes at a time, which can be frustrating. However, Zoom is ideal if you have many individuals in your team, as they can all be shown on the same screen at one time.

Zoom view shown on an iMac

Facebook Messenger

Many of our groups already use Facebook Messenger and Facebook Groups to communicate effectively with their members. The benefit of utilising Facebook Messenger for video calls is that the majority of people are already signed up to use Facebook, which makes it easier to begin communicating with everyone during lockdown. The downside to Facebook Messenger video calling is that it only supports up to eight people at a time, but this might be an easy way for smaller groups to get together. It’s free to use and all you need is a Facebook account.

Messenger view on an iphone

Whatsapp

Whatsapp is a popular application for messaging friends and family and works across multiple platforms, such as iOS, Android, Windows, and more. That means most people who own a smartphone will be able to download the app and start chatting almost instantly. This is an easy solution for groups who may have members who aren’t as technologically savvy as others. Whatsapp is secure as well, which is important if you’re sharing any personal data over messages. The video element of Whatsapp does let it down slightly, as only four people can be on a call at any one time. However, it’s simple to use and may be better for small groups.

FaceTime (Apple only

If you and your group members all have Apple products, then FaceTime can be a great solution to communicating. However, you are limited to how many people you can have on one video call. Again, it’s a secure option and one that may be best suited to smaller groups.

Remember, there are other brands out there and it’s all about finding the right one for your group. Many of these pieces of software are already installed on people’s smartphones, or are straightforward enough to download onto a tablet or computer.

Finding how to guides and information on how to access video technology to send to your group members is essential for ensuring everyone can get involved. We appreciate that many of our groups may have members who have limited access to Wi-Fi, as well as members who aren’t as technologically savvy as others. As a team, you should make the decision on which software you’re going to use, that can get everyone involved.

Facetime view on an iphone

2. Invest in specialised devices

If possible, members of your group may be able to invest in a specialised device, which means they don’t have to download any additional software. These could include:

  • Amazon Echo Show
  • Facebook Portal
  • Google Nest Hub Max

Although this might not be the right solution for everyone, it’s important to give individuals a choice on how they may want to communicate. Video software and devices like the above will also allow your members to stay in touch with other friends and family too, which can be a great way to combat loneliness.

3. Set a time and date each week

Provide members of your group or club with some routine. Having a set time and date each week where all team members are invited to join a video chat or message group is a great way to ensure everyone can say in touch – and gives individuals something to look forward to, especially if they’re on their own.

Some great ideas we’ve seen so far include:

  • Quiz night
  • Teaching a new skill – such as drawing, knitting, or even a dance move
  • Watching a film together
  • Virtual bake-off
  • Charades
  • Karaoke
  • Dress-up competition

Pitching ideas to your team before you commence with the video call will give it some sort of structure. Video calls with a lot of people can sometimes be overwhelming, so it’s important to provide the same structure that you would for an actual group meeting.

4. Encourage separate group calls or chats

Don’t just limit to one massive team meeting each week. Encourage your group or club members to video call each other and keep the momentum going. This may even provide those who haven’t had much chance to speak to each other to get to know each other more, tightening the group bond.

However you decide to keep in touch during a period of social distancing, remember to get everyone involved. If you have further ideas on keeping your group, team, or club active during lockdown, please get in touch and share them with us.

If you’re a group or organisation that can help support vulnerable people during this time, we would love to hear from you and know what kind of support you can provide.

Resources

How to set up a group Skype video call on a desktop

How to set up a group Skype video call on a smartphone

How to set up a Google Hangout video call

How to set up a group Zoom video call

How to set up a group Facebook Messenger video call

How to set up a Whatsapp group video call

How to set up a FaceTime group video call