What You Must Know When Managing A Virtual Team?
Looking back to the early years, it is a well-known fact that, the home and the workplace were the same places for most people; from the shoemaker to the doctor! Before the Industrial Revolution, factories frequently used their home spaces to provide services to customers. However, with the availability of electricity and public transportation in the early 20th century, people were attracted to one place to perform a particular task, which is now called “an office”. Surprisingly, though the system changed in the 20th century, the plague is currently in a process of pushing us back again to the way we worked decades ago.
This means that the current situation is not a “new norm” as it is. It’s a normal old thing coming back around.
Feels like going back to the early stages of life? Not! This is indeed the old concept blended with modern technology. Also, we are emphasizing the fact that this new pace of remote work is nothing new. IBM, the first known adopter, installed remote terminals in workers’ homes in the 1980s. In 2009, 40% of IBM employees worldwide worked from home, highlighting the strong technical role.
Even before the epidemic broke out in 2020, long-distance operations were taking place. And now again the plague is driving many from their workplaces, to work from home while letting people spend more quality time with their loved ones. And it is undoubtful fact that this excessive growth in work from home concept has a long-term positive effect. However, it might serve you with both pros and cons. So, it is important to be wise to manage the team to reach your targets.
In the meantime, if you are a person who runs a virtual team, below are five tips to help you and your virtual team on the road to real success.
1. Surround yourself with the right people
Indeed, working with a virtual team will not always bring only success. It is completely acceptable because, as some people grow up in an office environment, while others will shine by working remotely. Thus, if you are looking for a virtual team, it is very important to include a group of people who falls into the latest camp or people who can adapt to this unique style of operation. It is a must that members of the virtual team needed to have distinct communication skills, the ability to work independently, and technical skills.
Let me take an example. Have you ever heard about “Skyler Stein”, the President of Gladskin (a biotechnology-driven skincare brand) has not yet met all of his colleagues!!! Answering the public he expressed, “In January again, thanks to COVID, we built our team without the ability to get more people in our team to meet more members of our team in person. In the absence of natural relationships that occur by sharing the same office every day, we have prioritized building our team culture over the past year by capturing moments where people share their personalities and how they can work better with them. In this way, everyone has a ‘cheat sheet’ on how to get along with everyone else in the group. It has been a very important part of building our team and something that we will continue with even if the epidemic is over. ”
2. Choose your technology wisely
There are dozens of remote work tools on the market – from Google and the Microsoft suite of tools to Slack, Zoom, and Skype. Virbela offers a fully immersed compass, complete with customized avatars. Smartsheet offers personalized but integrated workflow management. There are applications for time management, document sharing, project management, HR, and meeting schedules. The list goes on.
It is important to remember that these are just tools – tools that make the tasks easier. However, if your virtual team is relying only on tools, it would not give you positive impacts. So, what’s more, important is to have the technical balance, and team communication to make the workflow smooth and productive.
3. Use training
Remember, “Training” does not lose its importance, whether your team works at home or not. There are still working procedures that need to be learned and simplified, which are different from organization to organization. Thus, giving training in cultural practices can be considered an essential part.
Training should always be something beyond a pre-recorded visual set with multiple-choice tests at the end. Also, it is important to know that each member uses varied methods in learning something new. However, among many learning techniques, learning through collaboration and participation is set at the top by many. So, it is important to encourage collaboration and learning in groups and enhance team building, anywhere possible.
4. Create a visible group culture
Virtual groups also need everything as same as the things that are needed by a traditional group to perform well, including promotions, recognitions, and rewards. Understanding it, a German utility company, introduced a method to send customized thank you letters to employees who have completed any task with success. Of course, it’s a simple action but action which can do a huge impact because it increases staff motivation and makes people feel that they are important.
A team that builds trust reduces conflict, promotes communication, and enhances cooperation is more likely to succeed. You can build such a team by providing communication channels, encouraging collaboration on projects, bringing in team-building activities, and many more. However, remember to choose activities that will make your team happy rather than moan. As an example, your team will be surprised with joy with a bottle of wine and a basket of local products arriving at the door before Christmas, then organizing a Christmas get-together on zoom!
5. Be firm but flexible
Working in a virtual team is absolutely not as same as working in an office. One of the biggest benefits that employees get benefited through working from home is the flexibility of time (and zero travel time). Therefore, it is very important to be aware of this and to maintain a work environment at home that is productive and effective.