For the past half of the year, the economy has been revolving around virtual teams more than ever before. With lockdown measures in place, the only way for companies and workers all over the world to keep their jobs and their business going was switching to virtual spaces. Adjusting to this new way of working hasn’t been easy for anyone. And it has been particularly challenging for those who were doing it for the first time.
This article is coming to give a helping hand to those team leaders, managers, and workers who are trying to make their virtual teams work and prosper during these strange times.
Make the process clear
Being goal-oriented is a crucial leadership quality. However, as a leader, you should guide your team through the process of accomplishing any team tasks. Make sure the specifics are clear and everyone knows their role in achieving the common goals.
Any uncertainty needs to be clarified as soon as possible, to avoid the loss of time and resources that might result from a poor understanding of the tasks or processes. This is extremely important for virtual teams that need the cooperation of every single member to achieve their goals.
Encourage commitment and followup
Virtual teams are missing an important layer of social cues that are specific to face-to-face interactions. Even though these are not absolutely crucial, it makes it harder to pick up the mood and the level of engagement displayed by each team member. To overcome this, you need to get team members to commit to milestones and follow up to check on their progress.
Encourage your team members to be more engaged, and respect their commitments. Put in place a system of frequent check-ups and reports that allows you to stay on top of things and watch everyone’s progress without falling in the traps of micro-management.
Take advantage of communication technologies
Technology plays the most important part in the functioning of any remote team. Without it, the very concept of remote work wouldn’t even be possible. Unless you are running a handmade knitting business 🙂
There are many channels of communication you can use, from phone to chat, conferencing, and many more. But the best options for any team that wants reliable and effective remote collaboration are the dedicated team communication apps. High-end platforms, such as Hubgets, have been developed to allow team members to communicate in real-time, but also to share files, allow leaders to follow their team progress, and keep everyone closely connected to the company life.
Having all of these in one place makes things easier for everyone, increasing productivity and comfort.
Set clear communication rules
Online communication can sometimes be very challenging to remote teams, especially for new teams or for those that weren’t used to working remotely before the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s the leader’s job to set in place communication rules for their teams, and to help with that we have already released a mini-guide. Most importantly, team members have to be reliable and responsive during working hours, but at the same time, they should respect their colleagues and avoid spamming them.
Make the rules clear from the beginning to avoid situations that might lead to tension or conflict among team members.
Virtual water cooler
Forging team relationships within virtual teams is particularly difficult. People from different backgrounds come together, sometimes without the opportunity to ever meet each other in person. However, good team cohesion can improve everyone’s mood and productivity.
Therefore, it’s important to take the time and put in the effort to help your people discover each other and create bonds. One way of doing this is by starting each meeting around a virtual water cooler, encouraging each team member to share personal stuff. This can be anything from a story about their weekend adventures to sharing pictures of their kids and pets.
Another fun way to make sure that team members relate on a personal level is having dedicated break time topics, or even message boards on your team communication app. This is where team members can talk about stuff other than work. Share gifs, funny pictures or cat videos, talk about the news, or anything that can up their mood and helps them get some steam off.
Coaching is important
Even while working remotely, one-on-one interactions between leaders and their team members are essential for the health of any virtual team. Make sure you take the time to have one-on-ones with every team member. Use these to check people’s level of satisfaction, solve any concerns they might be having, and review their individual performance while also providing constructive feedback.
Be a mentor to your people and help them improve their skills and grow professionally.
Shared leadership helps
The best way to make your people more engaged is by involving them in leading the team. A good leader knows to delegate tasks and assign responsibility to others.
Ask team members to take turns in running your weekly meetings, coach each other by sharing their skills, or put them in charge of smaller projects. Be fair when assigning these roles and avoid making anyone feel left out. Besides increasing engagement among team members, this will also give you the opportunity to pursue more challenging goals.
Remote work is doable
To sum it up, it’s important to have clear rules, a reliable team communication app, take the time to increase engagement and to foster good team relationships. Being able to count on one another and work together to achieve your goals and overcome any challenges is what will make your team thrive.
Furthermore, as their service providers, you can help businesses by delivering the best of what Unified Communications & Collaboration has to offer.
If you happen to have other pieces of advice, please share it with us and our readers in the comments section below.