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The idea of remote work isn’t new. Since 2009, the number of people working from home has grown by 159%.
No, that’s not a typo.
More people are looking for remote work every day. The pandemic indeed skyrocketed this search. But the data shows that people have been searching for quite some time.
This means that more companies are searching for people who can successfully manage a virtual team.
If you want to learn more about remote team management, look no further. We’re discussing our top 10 tips for managing virtual teams like a pro.
Have a question? Let’s talk. Send us an email or give us a call.
Challenges of Managing Virtual Teams
Managing a team, be it remote or in person, is tough. However, managing a virtual team has unique challenges.
Each team is different, but overall virtual team management faces these challenges:
- Loneliness: Detachment from human interaction is one of the biggest challenges for virtual teams, including team managers. Findstack reports that 19% of remote workers of all levels struggle with loneliness.
- Communication issues: A solid communication system is key to successful virtual team management. Unfortunately, some teams don’t choose the right tools and battle communication errors and poor delegation.
- Work ethic: Some people work better in an office setting. Human interaction enables certain people to meet deadlines. Some workers may delay communication by not responding to an email or chat. Managers may perceive this as a poor work ethic or poor communication.
The good news is that all of these challenges offer solutions. Let’s talk about overcoming these challenges when leading your virtual team.
Overcoming the Challenges
1. Allow for flexible work schedules
Better work-life balance is largely why people select remote work over working in a traditional office. Flexible work schedules help accommodate your staff and lead to a happier team.
Also, not all your team members will work in the same time zone. It would be best to accommodate this by offering flexible work hours so your team can function of their own will.
Doing so gives you a few advantages:
- See who is currently available to work on a task
- Track how each team member works
- See when each team member likes to work
Lastly, have the work hours overlap. A general rule is to have at least three to four hours of each shift overlapping the other shifts. Doing so helps bring your team together and allows for better scheduling.
2. Organize meetings for different time zones
Communicate with your team regularly. Because not every member works in the same time zone, it’s your responsibility to organize meetings suitable for each work schedule.
Know the schedule each team member works and work in a meeting. Staff can select a different meeting time if needed.
Have meetings and have them often. Offer discussions and create agendas so progress is made during each session.
3. Partake in virtual training
Participating in virtual training as a manager is vital to mastering the art of virtual management. This also goes for your team.
Different kinds of virtual training exist like technology, cultural, and group training.
Training doesn’t have to come through a class either. It can be through videos, books, and assessments. Get creative!
4. Choose video calls above chat
It’s easy to send a quick message whenever you need to discuss something with a staff member. But short messages often lead to misunderstandings. There are several communication tools, and video is best.
Video allows for more extended, in-depth conversations. Plus, it’s more personal.
5. Try remote management tools
Remote management means you need a system for excellent communication and task management. Companies everywhere are marketing new software such as:
These software companies help remote teams stay connected, finish tasks and projects on time, and set goals. You can utilize these tools too!
6. Hire the right people
Not everyone is suitable for remote work. Some people work much better in a traditional office. Post your job listing on websites dedicated to remote work to find the right people. Sites like WeWorkRemotely and FlexJobs are great places to start.
You can also post the listing on your company’s website and social media.
When it’s time for the hiring process, go through multiple stages of interviews. Ensure that the candidate’s personality is compatible with the rest of your workers.
7. Nurture the company culture
Company culture isn’t unique to traditional offices. Foster an environment that is safe, fun, and hard-working. To do so, build relationships around the reason you and your teamwork for the company in the first place.
Think about what you want your employees to say about the company when asked, “What’s it like?” Build your team around that vision.
8. Talk to other virtual team leaders
Ask for help from other virtual team leaders. What are they doing successfully? What could you do differently?
You can’t lead an entire team by yourself without asking for help. Connect with other virtual managers and build relationships.
9. Have a weekly report
Ask your team every week how their week went. What were their wins and challenges? When employees answer this question honestly, they include parts of their personal lives that affected their workweek.
This is an excellent opportunity to get to know your employees personally and help them with their professional life as well.
10. Build relationships with your team
As a remote worker, it’s easy to forget that you work with real people. Engage in conversations with your team that are not work-related. Get to know your team. Have fun!
Getting to know your team will help them realize that there’s someone else on the other side of their screen that cares about them—you. Likewise, you’ll remember that you’re not herding a bunch of ones and zeros.
The best thing you can do as a virtual leader? Break down the barrier of remote work. Make connections with your staff.
Your team will work hard and diligently and leave you proud to be a virtual leader.
Added Considerations When Managing a Virtual Team
In addition to the above tips, here are a few vital things to remember when building your virtual team and as you manage it.
Give Them All the Right Equipment
If you expect your virtual team members to provide the highest quality work, they will need quality equipment. Technology is their only means of working and communicating, so the hardware and software they use must be reliable, up-to-date, and in good working condition. You shouldn’t expect them to shoulder the entire expense of this on their own.
Have your company create a budget for furnishing your virtual staff with the same level of equipment you would provide in-office. Your team should have the following:
- Desktop computers
Additionally, they should have any programs, software tools, or platforms that will make them more efficient at their work and communication.
Create Team Rhythms
In the office, it’s easier to create and maintain work rhythms. Everyone is in the same location for the same purposes, with few distractions. But your remote team will have a much more challenging time feeling the consistency of work rhythms.
You can foster the disciplines of work life by establishing weekly meetings on the same day and time each week – complete with a shared agenda, firms start and finish times, and pre-work. If some of your team members are in different time zones, you may have to rotate the meeting times, so any inconvenience is shared with everyone equally.
Adopt a Shared Leadership Practice
Consider establishing a shared leadership practice. This could be by assigning a virtual team member to oversee a special project, allowing them to take the lead in some virtual team building exercise, or mentoring a new virtual team member. There are many opportunities for shared leadership practice, making your virtual team feel connected and empowered – two challenges for remote workers.
Virtual Teams Need 1:1’s As Well
In addition to your regular virtual team meetings, remember to have 1-1 sessions with your team members. These don’t have to be weekly, unless the nature of your work requires it, but they should happen with some regularity. These check-ins ensure that each team member is satisfied with their work and feels optimistic about their place on the team. It is also a great time to reinforce the goals of the company (and department) and to gain valuable feedback.
If you have inherited the team, these meetings are even more critical. You can become acquainted with each team member’s strengths and contributions and get a feel for the group dynamic.
Agree on a Shared Language
Language may not be an issue if your virtual team is in the same general geographic area. But if you are spread over regions or even countries, you may discover that team members have different words to describe things. For instance, the UK and US are both English-speaking countries, but the words they each use for the same items or situations can be completely different.
So, when you encounter these issues, be flexible and determine what words or phrases the team will use. The continuity will benefit everyone. It’s also vital to note that differences in language meaning can lead to miscommunications. Be sensitive to alternate pronunciations of words and varying interpretations of words and phrases.
Do you need support getting the results you want from your virtual team?
In 2020, we did an entire overhaul of our team system from in-person to virtual. Not only did this allow us to work with teams who couldn’t meet in person, it gave us great insight on best practices, tips, and tricks for virtual teams to get the most out of their teamwork, even from a physical distance. We’ve now helped hundreds of team members be better teammates and get better business results in a virtual setting, and we can help YOU achieve the results you want as well. Book a complimentary session with us so we can support your virtual team in developing a culture of accountability and teamwork that will get you the business results you’re looking for.
Transform your team into a high-functioning, well-oiled machine. Learn more about our practical approach to team management.