If the current pandemic we are facing has taught us anything it’s that people can work together just as well from the safety of their homes. Cue: virtual teams.
Virtual teams, popularly referred to as distributed teams or remote teams, are a group of individuals who collaborate together from different locations and time zones by relying on virtual communication tools.
Virtual teams have become a necessity for businesses now. What are your options to make it run effectively as ever? Here are a few of our favourites:
5 Tips For Building A Productive Virtual Team
1. Set up an effective communication strategy
It has been rightly said that communication is “the oxygen of a distributed company”. A good communication strategy will be as fundamental as keeping your stakeholders on board. Without such strategies in place, there will be a complete lack of coordination and transparency among the remote team members. After that, it is only a matter of time before your virtual team is treading the deep waters of not getting successful outcomes.
A good communication strategy should mainly focus on four major points:
- Make sure to share information that is factually correct or relevant.
- The projected information is delivered to everyone intended.
- The information is easily understandable by the recipients.
- The recipients or the team, so as to say, should be encouraged to display/practice a certain level of communication skills.
2. Invest in good communication technology
Unless you are part of a virtual team, it is easy to underestimate the importance of communication for team building and engagement. When you can’t any longer pop into each other’s cubicles to discuss the smallest of things, you learn to appreciate how good communication keeps a team functioning smoothly.
Without their usual face to face interactions, the overall team performance will most likely take a major hit.
That is why having a functioning communication toolbox is perhaps one of the major requirements of a dispersed team. A well-planned communication toolbox should at least have these basics:
- A good video conference tool is a must for conducting video meetings among remote workers. Some of the great tools for virtual teams to connect over is Zoom, Google Meet, or Google Hangouts.
- A chat tool for a remote team to help continue their relationship building. Slack and Skype are extremely helpful for this very purpose.
- A virtual meeting scheduling app such as Google Calendar so that team members can stay updated on each other’s schedules.
- Document/Resources accessibility is a huge part of making remote work feasible. Services to share documents are provided by many, but the more popular ones seem to be Google Drive and Dropbox.
- An agile project management tool is the best thing that you can invest in right now. Not only will it help your team keep track of the upcoming projects but it will also hold everyone accountable for their goals and tasks.
3. Track goals and commitments
In a study of 70 virtual teams, almost 82% fell short of their goals and 33% rated themselves as largely unsuccessful.
A huge part of this is because of the lack of the right productivity measures. Having a virtual team doesn’t throw accountability out of the window. In fact, now it’s even more relevant to business success.
Thus, it’s essential that managers set certain goals and commitments to remote workers. It is important to set SMART Goals and make sure that employees are aware of the expectations. It can also be facilitated by holding regular “status meetings”. Simultaneously, It is also equally necessary to have a certain system to asses the employees’ performance.
Tracking performance will not only allow you to hold an employee accountable to his work but will also help you to gather data about which measures actually helped to maximize productivity. However, managers should never indulge in micro-managing. Try to encourage the dispersed team to stay true to their commitments. Not only will it help to build trust but it also will help in relationship building.
4. Appreciation matters!
Virtual team members require as much as, if not more, recognition. While remote workers do have a better work-life balance but they’re equally as likely to feel unconnected and unappreciated from the rest of the team. A regular 9-5 employee is “in the moment” while working and is well aware of his significance to the team’s success.
Now that we are collectively going through a pandemic, it’s necessary to acknowledge the positives more than ever. Any employee who is working through such times and managing to deliver good results should be appreciated timely and frequently. Even a few words of appreciation can turn the day around for most of the remote workers.
Not only will appreciating your remote workers make their day a little easier but it will also help you to establish that you care from them.
5. The right leader
A recent study pointed out that managers with previous experience of leading a virtual team will show better success when doing it again. Even though if you are a novice to managing virtual teams, these characteristics will help you gain some traction over it:
It might be frustrating to know that you can’t control the team or circumstances but always be respectful towards the team members. Also, don’t leave empathy far behind.
Encourage open communication practices
Once you’ve established trust among yourself and your team, it’s essential to encourage open dialogues. A good practice is to ask before any meeting a candid question about their day so far.
Perhaps the more important of them all. Be there to guide the team members through any difficulties. You might be working remotely, but it’s your job to be present.
Are there any additional ways through which you engage your virtual team? Let us know in the comments below.
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