How to Manage Virtual Teams
According to the Workforce 2020 survey, over 83% of executives had plans to increase their use of intermittent employees or consultants over the next three years. With the global pandemic forcing many companies to go virtual, and the resulting emphasis on telecommuting, leaders have to adapt and learn how to manage virtual teams.
The majority of those who have worked remotely can attest that while it has its advantages. However, it can also present challenges.
According to research, some of the specific limitations of managing virtual teams include some people participating more than others, difficulties resolving conflict, and difficulty forming trust among team members. In addition to the frustration team members experience, technological glitches on calls, connectivity issues, and different expectations regarding the comfort and use of technology often add to the frustration.
Another study revealed that 84% of respondents believe that virtual communication is more challenging than face-to-face contact, and nearly 90% of online teams have at least two cultures. This means that the major responsibility of virtual team leaders is to ensure that communication is seamless and uninterrupted.
We’ve compiled a helpful list of tips on how to guide a successful virtual team and how to prepare for potential challenges you may encounter.
How to Manage Virtual Teams
Establish Work Systems
Different people approach tasks in different ways. Setting standards can help to reduce the amount of time required to accomplish the intended result. By establishing standards and designing repeatable work methods, the team has fewer questions and a better idea of how long specific jobs should take. These work systems must be both standardised and personalised to provide for optimal effectiveness and the essential freedom to finish the task to the best of one’s ability.
Establish Multiple Communication Channels
There are two advantages to establishing different communication methods. First and foremost, your team has a means to rapidly communicate urgent messages to the appropriate person. Second, it standardises operations such as conference calls, screen recordings, and so on.
Schedule Regular Meetings
Scheduling meetings at the same time on the same weekday aids in the development of a routine. This, in turn, relaxes the team and minimises tension. Rather than just a conference call, make use of video calls. These are one of the most effective ways to increase efficiency since they reproduce the normal office experience that remote colleagues miss out on.
Clearly Outline Your Deliverables
Just telling your team to do something isn’t a common method of team management – nor is it a good one. Micromanaging isn’t great either, which unfortunately means some managers avoid giving detailed instructions at all.
According to our experience, it is preferable to include more thorough descriptions of the duties, as well as examples of what the end output should look like. Allowing the team the freedom to execute it is preferable to providing fewer instructions and dealing with potential misunderstandings.
Ensure That Work Hours Overlap
No matter what time zone your team members are in, it is highly recommended that most of the team spends at least three to four hours online simultaneously each day. It’s not necessary for some of the team members to work together to complete their tasks, but being online at the same time makes the team more cohesive and is the fastest way to solve problems.
Maintain a Professional Work Environment
Corporate culture calls for professional attire and distraction-free workspaces. Additionally, setting professional standards makes it easier to be efficient and puts people in the right mindset.
Prioritise Video Calls Over Emails and Chatting
Slack and email are available at everyone’s fingertips. This makes it tempting to chat and send a quick email whenever there is a problem. Unfortunately, this makes it easy for miscommunications to occur. Video calls, or at the very least regular calls, are more than just a way to avoid misunderstandings with virtual teams – they connect the team members on a more personal level.
Identify the Right People to Work With
Not everyone is made out for remote work, and not everyone’s personality fits in with the team’s. There are a variety of professional personality tests available, and they can be a useful tool in determining whether someone is the appropriate fit for you. However, the best approach to evaluate whether someone is the right fit for you is to ask yourself whether you are certain about them. It’s usually advisable to move on to the next applicant if you aren’t. Additionally, double-checking all references is essential to ensure you understand all you’re getting yourself into.
Establish a Meritocracy
A meritocracy is a system of recognizing and rewarding people for their achievements. This, in turn, stimulates them to work harder and better. Establish reward systems to motivate your team and to identify those who may be able to take on more responsibilities.
Utilise Project Management Tools
Keeping track of deadlines can be made easier with project management tools. Besides sending alerts for important deadlines, they also provide an overview of what needs to be done, by whom, and when on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Google Docs and time tracking apps can also be great additions.
Lastly, Create a Virtual Team Culture
Virtual team culture is just as vital as any other team culture; members of a virtual team must still communicate and create mutual trust.
You can foster this virtual culture by doing the following:
Meeting in person on a regular basis
If you all live in the same country, you can plan a get-together every few months. Plan a team dinner, go bowling, and get to know your coworkers beyond their job titles.
Attempting to form virtual friendships
You probably won’t be able to hold pizza parties or play Foosball with your online buddies very often. But you can urge folks to form internet friendships. As a manager, you can set an example by adding your team members to social media sites. Even if it’s just on LinkedIn and Twitter. Even better if it’s on Facebook and Instagram as well.
Making all meetings remote-friendly
When only a portion of the team is virtual, the non-virtual members may feel compelled to arrange separate meetings. Establish the practice of hosting all meetings, including quick ones, online to avoid the remote crowd feeling left out.
Setting aside a couple of hours a week for extracurriculars, according to Rahul Vij, CEO of a digital marketing agency WebSpero Solutions, is one of the best ways to motivate employees and protect them from the feeling of “detachment.”
At Noon Dalton, we hire, manage, and train your virtual teams so you don’t have to worry about a thing.
We understand how important it is to treat remote workers like people, instead of cogs in the machine. With programs like Noon Dalton University, we help them further their training and we foster a healthy environment that addresses both mental and physical wellbeing.