Technology has broken any barriers of distance and culture. Thanks to this, virtual teams are the ideal solution for small businesses or for tasks which don’t require too much human interaction. Truth be told, there are even solutions that allow people who require high degrees of interaction to work remotely with great success as well.
By having a virtual team, you’re able to tap into a talent pool from all over the world. As remote work becomes common, employers who offer this option are also more likely to attract the best talent.
However, managing a virtual team while holding their work to the highest standards can be challenging. There’s also the tall order of building the same kind of cohesion with your remote team members as you do with your other employees. But, it is not impossible. The tips below give by Diana Nadim Adjadj from TrustMyPaper will help you get the best results from your virtual team:
Don’t let remote team members be forgotten
There is a lot of micro communication that happens outside of official team meetings and planning sessions. A lot gets communicated when employees stop by each other’s offices or chat in the breakroom. Remote employees who aren’t part of these exchanges can miss quite a bit. Eventually, they can even begin to be left out of some pretty important decisions. As a manager, it’s important that you don’t allow remote team members to be forgotten.
Encourage your team members to make regular contact with remote staff. Use communication tools that have messaging and chat features to facilitate this. Make sure conversations are continuing after meetings have ended. Of course, having the tools is only half of your answer. It still takes a dedicated effort to keep people in the loop and to use each tool in a way that is advantageous for remote teams. Then, establish communication best practices. If you need conversations to happen over more official channels, then schedule more meetings.
Be clear about deliverables and due dates
People who work remotely benefit from flexibility. They get to choose their own schedules, at least in part. This makes for happier workers. The challenge is that some remote workers may struggle with time management. This is especially true among those who are new to all of this. They may need a bit of coaching to learn to manage distractions.
As their boss, one of the best things you can do is set up a clear project management calendar that contains deliverables, KPIs, due dates, etc. Whatever method you use to do this, it’s imperative that every worker has a clear understanding of what their duties are, and when they are expected to have each task completed.
You have a few options for doing just this. If you’d like a simple solution, there are Excel templates available, or you can create your own, proprietary template. Google calendar is also a viable option.
Use project management & collaboration tools made for this purpose
A good project management tool is important for any project. They help people stay focused and ensure everything is delivered on time. Project management tools also help you to manage scope and manage your resources with less effort. The need for all of this increases significantly when you are also faced with the challenge of dealing with a remote team.
There are dozens of options when it comes to selecting project management tools for your team. However, some are particularly better suited for remote teams. These combined with the right collaborative tools, and communication tools such as Skype or WhatsApp can really keep teams on the same page.
Adopt a file sharing system
Emails can be a good method for sharing files in some cases, but there are some problems with it. It’s not the most secure way to transmit sensitive information. It can also lead to multiple copies of a single document being stored across different servers. Plus, anyone who needs to access a file has to wait to receive it. Instead, it’s much better to store files in a single location that is secured, and that can be accessed by anyone who needs them.
Consider using a file sharing system to solve this problem. Solutions such as Google Drive or Dropbox enable you to store documents for each project in a single location. This way, your team can easily update information, and others can access them anytime they need to.
Create a strategy to deal with any language barriers
When you employ remote workers, there’s a greater chance that you’re going to have team members who speak different languages. This is something to take into consideration when your team members communicate with one another. Even if everyone has the ability to speak a common language, the truth is that most people are able to process information and recall it much more efficiently in their own language. Because of this, it may be a good idea to have documentation, and other information translated for the benefit of your remote teams.
Create a reward system that works for remote teams
Even if you don’t have an official rewards system, many workplaces have an unofficial one. Maybe you close big projects by taking everyone out to happy hour, or you let people go home early on Fridays after a hard week. That’s great. These are the kind of gestures that really keep teams motivated, and boost morale. The question is, are you rewarding the folks on your remote team as well?
It’s a good idea to provide your hard working team members with some form of compensation above and beyond their salary when they work hard for you. To reward them you can:
- Send digital gift cards
- Have lunch catered to their remote office
- Pay for a subscription to a monthly snack or coffee box
- Purchase tickets to sporting events or concerts in their area
More and more companies are working with remote teams. They do so for a variety of reasons. These include better access to talent as well as the ability to establish a global presence much more easily. While there are undeniable benefits, there are also some challenges. To overcome these, consider implementing some of the tips here. They will help make managing your team a much easier task and ensure that your projects are always successful.