Managing virtual teams is a vital component of the rapidly changing world of business. Gone are the days where every single employee is expected to head into the office from 9-5 and put in an on-site shift. With the amazing capabilities of the cloud and other technological progress in recent years, the concept of the virtual team has taken off, with team members working remotely not only in different buildings, but in different countries on different continents around the world.
We understand how this could be a bit of a departure from what you’re used to, and dealing with so many workers all over the place can be quite frustrating. Check out these five tips for managing a virtual team if you’re having trouble.
This, first and foremost, is the biggest thing you need to concentrate on if you want to successfully run a virtual team. To work remotely is to work in an area in which you won’t be coming into physical contact with each other. This means you won’t be able to just pop by somebody’s desk to ask them a question or have a quick catchup in a conference room. This is especially true if those working remotely are located in different time zones. That makes communication key. Emails, online chatting systems (more on those later) and phone and video calls are all key components of staying in contact. Be clear in your communication, especially if there is going to be a long lag between times when you are both available.
Smart planning is key to any business, but it can be a huge problem if not a focus when it comes to managing a virtual team. Just like the importance of strong communication, you need to be able to plan well, especially when it comes to day-to-day activities. Get briefs out to people early so you can leave yourself 24 hours to hammer out any confusion. As discussed, it’s not always easy to just raise an issue with somebody, so you want to make sure to give as much lead time as possible.
- Use tools
As the business world has gotten more disconnected physically, it has gotten more connected electronically. Luckily for you there is an amazing array of tools available to you online that can smooth out your virtual team experience. On a larger scale, managed IT solutions give you a chance to turn the whole world into an office by allowing those you permit to access the important files they need easily and securely. On a more granular level, chat software such as Slack allows you to keep in touch with messaging, and many business email interfaces feature handy scheduling tools to help keep everybody on the same page.
With documents and tasks flying all over the place, you’ll want to make sure you’re tracking not only who is working on what tasks, but their progress and when they complete them. You can go about this in a variety of ways, whether it’s your own spreadsheet or task-tracking software. However you decide to do it, stay vigilant. Trying to catch up on tracking at the end of a month or even a week can be a nightmare, and letting a piece of work slip through the cracks can lead to major headaches.
This might not be possible if your virtual team is spread all over the world, but if your organisation can handle it, you should try to have in-person meetings whenever you can. These can be once a month, once a quarter, twice a year—really whenever you can make the happen. There are several reasons why this is a good idea. For one, it gives you a chance to have easier communication between everybody involved. This means you can set plans for the future and go over issues that you’ve all been having. Another benefit is that it can bring your team a bit closer. Meeting somebody in person is totally different from knowing them as an email address, chat avatar or digital face on a conference call. All of this could be moot if your team lives on different continents. But, if they are located interstate, try to set up a day where you can all travel to a central location to meet.
Managing virtual teams can be a foreign experience for some. But there are tremendous benefits to running your business this way. Keep these tips in mind as you and your team work remotely and make sure to check out our business connectivity solutions to keep the workflow running smoothly.