These days, organizations are operated on the global level. That’s why virtual teams have become a new norm. The research suggested that around 66% of companies that operated globally rely on virtual team management. Virtual teams help you meet the geographical expansion’s challenges, drive the demand for workplace flexibility and cost-saving. However, managing virtual teams is not a cakewalk. It is different from working in-house working environment. There are plenty of challenges to manage geographically dispersed teams that include language barriers, poor engagement, different time zones, and cultural differences. Most multi-national companies have no virtual team strategy and clear policies on managing a virtual team. Here are some useful tips for managers on how to manage virtual teams. Let’s get into it!
How do you manage remote teams virtually?
It sounds like a challenging task to manage remote teams virtually. But fortunately, it is not as difficult as it sounds. It can be a calk walk for managers when they use collaboration tools pair with virtual team management practices. Here’s what managers should do and get the most out of their virtual teams:
- Use the best communication tools
- Remember time zone differences and treat them fairly.
- Invest in building relationships between your strong pre-existing teams.
- Define work systems.
- Build an around-the-clock work cycle.
- Build trust
- Communicate regularly
- Reward hard work
- Manage productivity
- Schedule regular meetings
- Be kind
- Hold each other accountable.
- Find the right and honest people to work with.
- Provide Flexibility
- Choose video calls over emails and messaging
Use the best communication tools
The communication tools make the virtual team management process stress-free and effective. These tools are, in fact, vital for managing a team virtually. All you need to choose the communication style that is not only best for your company but also helps your team succeed. Stay in contact with your employees using videos, emails, and chat. This way, you can effectively collaborate with your remote workers.
Remember time zone differences and treat them fairly
Businesses that work with different locations and multi-national companies are familiar with working around different time zones. However, if you plan to expand your business globally, you need to treat the time zone differences fairly. You don’t expect an employee from New York City to be on a video call at 6 am EST. Your employee will be more productive when you have flexible working hours.
Invest in building relationships between your strong pre-existing teams
If you have a strong pre-existing team where all employees know each other- remember that these teams may create more barriers if they start working virtually with other co-workers who are not familiar with them. Employees who are familiar with each other are more reluctant to share information with those whom they don’t know as they know the strategies that work. So it is vital to invest in socializing your strong pre-existing team. You can even recruit some new employees in all locations and start from scratch.
Define your work system
Not all workers use the same way to handle the situation or completing the tasks. So it is crucial to set standards and define your work systems. It can shorten the time to complete the job and achieve your desired results.
Moreover, your team has fewer questions about the specific work, and they get to know how much time the certain task should take to complete. Consequently, it maximizes the effectiveness and helps your team to allow the freedom to complete specific tasks.
Build an around the clock work cycle
Different time zones seem to be a complication, but they can increase efficiency by building a 24/7 work cycle. However, you can’t ignore conflicting deadlines and language barriers. You can coup up these issues if you pay greater attention to tiny details when you are assigning work to your team. The managers can develop a team charter to clear up the direction, define rules about how to apply tools to achieve goals, and work together remotely. These simple tools may include a checklist that simplifies the work transfer process from one employee to another.
Building trust is the key element that helps you manage a virtual team successfully. Speak openly to your co-workers to discuss ideas without any judgment. Your team members should be comfortable when they share ideas or having a conversation. When you try to create an environment where every member is frank with each other and shares an honest opinion, it will help build a strong relationship regardless of location.
When it comes to virtual team management, communication is the key. When you provide communication frequently and on time helps to unite your team together. When you define a working system and inform your employees about future tasks, they can share their ideas and work effectively. But ensure that your staff has the right team communication tools. So they can communicate with each other at any time. This will encourage them to communicate regularly and share more new ideas.
Reward hard work
Reward your team because it encourages them to work more efficiently. Use the recognition tool that helps to keep them engaged and motivated as well. Virtual working has become a necessity for all companies, especially after the coronavirus pandemic outbreak. You must ensure the unity among your team that will make your staff productive and engaged. Give your team a clear direction to achieve the company’s goal and trust them. Consequently, you will give your desired results by being productive.
Productivity is a big challenge when it comes to managing teams virtually—you must have productivity tools to manage your employees’ output. Understand every team’s output that will make it easier for you to correct course if things don’t work well. Don’t reach out to your team at the end of the month and find out your team has been missing the target for the last couple of weeks. Give them clear and achievable goals to each member of your team. Make sure that your team understands your expectations and encourage them to set up a committed workspace. Moreover, give your team the right tools to do the job properly, which in turn helps you boost productivity.
Schedule regular meetings
Create a routine by scheduling regular meetings on the same weekday. This way, your team members get used to and familiar with something important. Consequently, it reduces stress and puts your employees at ease. Video conferencing or video calls is the best way to stay connected with your team and maximize your efficiency. This will help them to recreate the office routine that remote workers are missing out on.
These days, the coronavirus variant is the only global story. In this stressful situation, employees may have a higher risk and try to work from home or remotely as best they can. To maintain your business continuity, the managers need to understand that your staff will not be as productive as if they were in the workplace.
Hold each other accountable
Holding each other accountable helps you build trust among your team members. When you manage virtual teams, then your communication leaves room for uncertainty, and often, concerns arise that are not expressed. So it is necessary to tackle this issue with the utmost care and involve every teammate. When you rely on formal leadership with the hope to drive the commitment of dispersed workers can be less effective.
Find the right and honest people to work with
Not everyone can indeed handle remote work. That’s why finding the right person that fits your team is very important. There are some professional personality tests that can help you determine whether someone is right for this job or not. Also, ask yourself whether you are sure to recruit someone for a specific position or not. If you’re not sure, then it is better for you to choose the other candidate who is right for this job. Also, don’t forget to double-check all references to make sure that you know all that you are getting yourself into.
Everyone who works from home needs flexibility and freedom. So if your team member wants to go out during the day or have lunch with his family, show some flexibility and allow him to go out. Make sure that you define some core hours in which all team members are required to be online and communicate with each other. This way, they can work together more effectively, especially when they work in different time zones. But if every employee works his other hours in the evening or in the morning, it doesn’t matter if they are giving you desired results.
Choose video calls over emails and messaging
As email and Skype are available at every team member’s fingertips, it is enticing to send a quick email or instant message whenever there is something to discuss. But this can lead to misunderstandings very easily. To avoid misunderstandings with your virtual teams, voice call or video call are the best way. Calls can connect the remote workers on a more personal level.
Read more from Stealth Agents: