Today, working remotely from home is becoming a trend, especially due to the impact of COVID-19 on the lives and businesses of people around the world. For businesses and companies, it has become a challenge to remain productive while working from remote locations. But other businesses have been practicing a remote culture for many years now, which are very successful. And come to think of it, it gives businesses the freedom to hire people from anywhere in the world, making it easier to find talented individuals.
However, like any other work, working remotely comes with challenges, as well. If you are new to managing a team online and you’d like to know more about how you could make it effective, you’re in the right place. Today, we are giving you tips for managing a virtual team.
When your employees are working remotely, one of the challenging things to look after is their efficiency or productivity. Since you’re working from different places, you do not see them physically if they are doing their tasks during work hours. To manage your team’s productivity virtually, here are some of the things that you can do.
Track the hours, attendance, and other basic productivity measures
If you are paying your team members based on the number of hours they have worked, then you must track how many hours each of them completes. When you’re in an office environment, it’s easy to do this because you can see every day who’s coming in even if you do not track their attendance. However, in a virtual environment, it can be challenging to know how long they worked and what tasks they are working on.
In a team, some can be very disciplined and can work on time and finish their tasks without any distractions. However, some also need some accountability. With this, you need to come up with a tool that your team can use for you to track the number of hours they have worked and as well as what they have finished each day.
Create and implement systems
Creating systems and implementing them is very important in every business. It’s because, in a virtual team, each of you has your own world. Therefore, an individual in your team might develop his or her own processes and procedures that don’t match with the way the other team members are working. Therefore, having a standardized and documented way of working is essential. You can create processes and steps, depending on what your business is focused on.
Track your team’s work output
There are also tools that you can use to track the productivity of your team. This is important whether you are managing a virtual team or not. If you know how well your team members are doing, you’ll be able to know who among them are being productive and who needs to be motivated.
Establish a system of overlapping times for communicating in different time zones
If your team members are from different time zones, you need to ensure that you have an overlapping period where everyone is working. This way, you can organize your virtual meetings at these times. However, this depends on the kind of work that you do. If your business needs your team to be continually collaborating, then it’s better to hire people who are in the same time zone or those who are only at least 3 hours apart.
Do a periodical review to see how your virtual team members are doing
People can sometimes feel lonely or unmotivated to work when they are at home. It’s because not everyone can cope well with remote work. While most people do love this kind of setup, it is still important to check in with your team from time to time and make sure that they are doing well.
Communication is probably the biggest challenge when it comes to managing a virtual team. It’s because, in an office environment, you can easily communicate with one another. If there’s something you need to discuss with your team, you can instantly call them to the board room for a meeting. However, if you are working online, you need to make more effort to communicate with your team effectively. Here are some of the things that you can do.
Compensate for the fact that you do not see each other
One of the reasons why virtual teams do not work is because they do not compensate or think of the fact that team members do not see each other. Sometimes, they forget that they live in their own world and do not communicate or share ideas as much as they need to. Therefore, to manage a virtual team effectively, you need to create chances for your team members to chat both formally and informally.
Create a chat room that is open for everyone in the business
Having a chat room that is open for all your team members is also a great idea. This way, your team would be able to discuss important issues and feel that they belong to the team. You can also create a chat room for non-work-related topics, an ice breaker, when everyone feels tired. This will help keep a feeling of social connection for everyone. There are many services you can use for chatting, like Skype and Slack.
Pick the right style of communication
Choosing the best style of communication for your team is also important. This depends on what kind of business you have and what kind of tasks your team does. You can choose among email, chat programs, video chat, virtual phone systems, and project management tools.
Use tools for easy visual communication
Another challenge of managing a virtual team is how to explain something visually on your computer screen when you’re not in the same room. You can make this possible by using screen sharing tools. There are also tools that may allow other people to control your computer remotely. Aside from screen sharing tools, you can also try recording your screen and sharing the screen capture videos with your team. This is great if you cannot hold a meeting due to different time zones.
Have an effective collaboration on documents
Using Google Drive is one of the best options when it comes to sharing documents that can be edited by all of your team members. You can also use it to share documents that will not be edited. You can also find project management tools that have file sharing and collaboration features, which is another alternative for collaborating documents.
Aside from productivity and communication, your company’s culture is also important to maintain, even when working remotely. Here are some of the things that you can do:
Create videos to inspire your teamCreating videos and sharing them with your team is a great way to inspire them. You can also do this to reinforce your business’s core values, such as the vision and mission of your company. This way, your people won’t miss the feeling of company culture.
Cultivate virtual friendships
Do not forget that you are working with real people who are wired to connect with others. Your team members can get connected from outside of work, but it is still great if you can fill some of this need at work in a virtual team. This is very important, especially if your business does not involve much human contact.
Create a feeling of being in a true team
When managing a virtual team, you need to make extra effort to keep your people feeling committed to the team. Aside from contributing true value to the team’s common goal, let them know that they are also part of the team’s success in achieving the goal. Try to maintain non-work-related communication while keeping them informed about how the business is doing at the same time. When there are important projects and events, get everyone involved. Do everything you can to make everyone feel that they are truly part of a team and a company.
Meet in person if possible
Meeting in person is one of the best ways to develop true friendships at a remote work setup. You can do this thrice a year or as often as possible to be able to create stronger bonds in your company. So, if possible, try to meet your team in person every once in a while.
These are some of the best tips we can give on how to manage a virtual team effectively. It may feel challenging at first, but when you get used to it, you’ll be working as if you are in an office environment.