Even if you’re not new to it, managing a virtual team can be a challenge.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced business teams of all types to start working remotely. Luckily, the move to a remote work model is far from new. Companies have been experimenting with remote work for many years.
This has meant that suitable tools are available. It also means that experienced remote managers can share what they’ve learned about managing their teams.
1. Set clear deliverables
Allocate defined tasks to each team member well in advance. Also provide workable timelines and realistic deadlines.
Setting daily or weekly performance goals makes expectations clear. It also makes it easier to check on individual and team performance. You can then make adjustments, if and when required.
2. Encourage open lines of communication
A key learning about managing remote teams? Frequent communication between team members is vital.
It’s necessary for proper collaboration on projects. It makes it possible to create a mentoring environment, in which members of the team can learn from each other.
It prevents unnecessary duplication of work. And it’s important for helping virtual team members feel less isolated.
Apps like Microsoft Teams, Tandem and Loom are great intra-team communication tools. They’re free to use for the foreseeable future.
3. Establish a predictable schedule for one-on-one communication
Set aside at least an hour a week for one-on-one video chats with each member of your team.
Identify a day and time that works for both you and each team member. Stick to that schedule.
Remote work is at its most productive when there’s a routine in place. By initiating a routine in the form of scheduled meetings, it can encourage a more organised workflow overall.
4. Organise adequate business resources
Ensure your team is adequately set up for remote work.
That may mean installing and paying for high-speed internet connectivity. Also ensure virtual team members have suitable anti-virus and firewall software, along with secure, glitch-free access to any work-related software they need.
A business is only as efficient as its tools. That applies doubly when you’re managing a virtual team.
5. Develop a personalised relationship
Trust is a core component of success, no matter what type of team you manage.
Building trust requires some level of personalised interaction. Regular one-on-one video chats are the ideal platform for a bit of idle chatter.
Take the time to get to know the people on your team – whether they have families or pets, what their hobbies are and how they’re coping in the current circumstances.
A caring relationship is invariably a productive and mutually beneficial relationship that’s built on good will.
6. Focus on outcomes rather than hours
Trying to micromanage a virtual team is difficult and likely to be counterproductive.
Don’t focus on hours of work, or get too hung up on how work is done. Instead, focus on achievement of required outcomes.
If team members deliver work on schedule, they can have the flexibility and freedom to work when they want.
7. Cultivate an open-door policy
Even if there’s no physical door involved and your team is geographically dispersed, be open and communicate often. Encourage team members to discuss issues with you, as and when they occur.
Apps like Slack and HubSpot Meetings, and scheduling services like Setmore, can make it easier to open your door in a virtual environment.
At The Workspace, we offer affordable, fully serviced offices and coworking. All our members have access to fibre internet, meeting rooms, boardrooms and a range of business services – and many use our facilities as an ideal base for managing a virtual team. For more information or to book a tour of one of our branches, call us on 0861 250 259 or contact us online.