Building virtual teams is an incredible way to attract more talent. By hiring skilled professionals from different lands, you invite them to share their unique capabilities without ever having to relocate.
But it isn’t as simple as it sounds. Distance and time can pose as barriers to effective coordination and management of remote work teams.
However, things get easier when you know the tips and tricks. Here are 10 ways to effectively manage virtual teams and boost their productivity.
Tip #1: Put Together the Right Team
When you put together a team in the office, you don’t just throw members together arbitrarily. The same should be true to your remote teams. A solid remote team should have the characteristics necessary to work well together and reach the expectations you’ve set.
Look for employees who:
[A] Have the right attitude & skills to accomplish goals set for the team. Hire for attitude, train for skills!
[B] Have personalities that will blend together
[C] Are self-motivated
[D] Possess the technical skills necessary to handle their jobs remotely without close supervision
Tip #2: Set Clear Expectations
Did you put together your remote team with a single goal in mind or are you working with a large team designed to handle multiple projects over time? No matter what your team is designed to accomplish, it’s important that you set out clear expectations for your team. This includes regular deadlines and check-ins as well as the long-term performance that’s expected of the team and the goals you hope to meet. A team that understands what’s expected of them is always better equipped to deliver.
Tip #3: Build Rapport
Building rapport with a remote team can be difficult.
One key trick to this is interacting with each other about more than just business.
Set aside time for a little fun and games when you communicate. Get together on a video call, use a chat program, or build a few inside jokes through an email. If you’re managing a remote team, take the time to get to know all the members of your team on a personal level. Make sure that you collect and remember important dates, like birthdays and anniversaries. These simple steps can help bring your team closer.
Tip #4: Open the Lines of Communication
Communication is critical. Ensure that you’ve created an atmosphere that encourages communication and makes it easy for team members to connect. To connect as a team, video chat is essential. This includes regular email check-ins, chat programs and virtual meetings that will allow you to interact and engage beyond business discussions. The more your team communicates, the easier it will be for you to work effectively together.
Tip #5: Know How Your Team Members Work Best
Members of your remote team have their own unique work styles. Make sure you know key strengths of each team member to boost their productivity. For example:
[A] Invest in their skills
Understand your team’s strength and invest in their learning. Skills need to be polished over time. It is important to invest in training programmes and give your team an opportunity to learn and be motivated.
[B] Communication styles
Some team members prefer open and regular communication, while others work best in a low-distraction environment.
[C] How team members work best
Some team members prefer to chip away at larger projects, while others do better with items broken down into smaller pieces.
Tip #6: Bring Remote Teams Together
It’s not always easy but when possible, it can have a significant impact on team bonding! Try a team retreat or other workplace gatherings to ensure that your remote team members meet face-to-face. This will help them interact and will give them a better chance to get to know each other.
Tip #7: Make Meetings Matter
Meetings are important when you’re working with virtual teams and it’s critical to ensure that those meetings accomplish something worthwhile. You don’t want to host a meeting where no one really says anything. Many remote employees have several commitments on some days that may be disrupted by constant business meetings. The trick is to keep your meetings short and sweet while also covering all your important elements.
Tip #8: Use the Right Platform
Remote teams need a clear platform that will allow them to work well together. You need to be able to seamlessly share files, chat, share screens when necessary, and manage your project workflows, ideally from a single workspace that makes it easier for employees to keep up with simple organization tasks.
Tip #9: Spread the Inconvenience Around
Chances are, as you add remote employees, you’ll be adding unique schedules and different time zones. There will be times that are extremely convenient for one employee, but which simply won’t work for another. You might not always be able to pick one slot that is convenient for every member of the team, but you can show consideration for everyone involved. When possible, try not to consistently cause an inconvenience to a single member of the team; instead, treat each one equally and spread that inconvenience around.
Tip #10: Schedule One-on-One Feedback Opportunities with Every Employee
In a remote environment, you can’t just stick your head in an office and check on an employee. You may miss several non-verbal cues that indicate something isn’t right for an employee. To ensure that you’re doing your best for every member of your team, make sure you personally follow up with each employee regularly. Get to know what’s going on in their lives and make sure that the remote atmosphere is still working for them. This simple strategy can help you better manage your team members and place you in a better position to offer whatever help they need to be more productive.
Increasing communication and productivity within your remote teams will help take you to your goals and improve team performance. By utilizing these key tips, you’ll discover that your teams can accomplish more, driving them closer to their individual goals and your business objectives.