In the current era of pandemics and technological advancement, many companies have adopted building a virtual team of remote employees to ensure business continuity.
Working remotely has become the norm, with companies strategizing on how to take advantage of remote employees.
Companies have created remote teams, popularly known as virtual teams and sometimes as distributed teams. They team up from diverse locations with different time zones using virtual communication tools. Setting up successful virtual teams is a crucial concern for companies to achieve their goals and mission.
Several companies have no idea how to set up these virtual teams. Other companies are unaware of the most effective techniques to coordinate and supervise their remote teams.
Here, we go through our essential suggestions for establishing virtual teams to ensure that the team members can collaborate effectively.
The benefits of an in-person office are great, but the reality is that virtual teams will continue to exist and thrive as long as businesses do.
We all agree that it’s important for employees to have some form or sense of connection with their coworkers, and this can only happen if they’re physically present at one place during work hours – even though we might not see each other!
The transition into a virtual team can be difficult. But having remote employees is associated with overwhelming benefits, including;
- Lower overhead expenditures, as well as associated expenses.
- Increase in productivity.
- Reduced employee stress levels due to greater flexibility.
- Global connection to stakeholders.
- Increased savings for virtual teams through the elimination of commuting expenses.
Moreover, companies have invested a lot of capital in making their virtual teams work effectively. For instance, they have invested in digital communication to ensure successful virtual implementation. Some companies have even created home office setups for remote workers and offered training to nurture successful virtual teams.
Most companies will not easily disregard the benefits combined with the investments made.
Experts anticipate that virtual teams will remain a permanent fixture in most companies. Consequently, a remote work policy is inevitable to guide the terms and settings of executing work outside the official workplace.
The remote work policy can incorporate the following:
- Functioning hours
- Team reporting line
- Paternal and maternal leave
- Sick leave
- How to conduct meetings and conferences
- Communication flow
- Remote employee recognition.
The policy clarifies the team collaboration values expected from virtual teams and communication technology to build a thriving virtual team.
Over 60% of companies worldwide have adopted virtual teams. Therefore, there are multiple tools for every task within virtual teams. As a result, the most troublesome issue surrounding virtual teams is identifying the appropriate technology tool for a particular job.
Before quickly investing in technology, identify the needs of your remote team members. Then, scrutinize the requirements against online user manuals, video tutorials, or other written instructions for various optional technology tools. The right tool can convert your inefficient remote teams into successful virtual teams.
To enhance relationship building in virtual teams, use simple chat tools such as Slack, Twist, Skype, or Google Hangouts. These tools allow virtual team members to send quick messages between themselves easily. It encourages virtual communication like employees in the same office.
Using Google Docs on Google Drive or Dropbox is an excellent way to enable remote teammates to collaborate easily, like in an in-person office setting. These collaboration tools promote virtual team building between remote colleagues. A feature such as “track changes” allows you to identify the edited sections other teams members have made. “Suggesting” mode is another feature to ensure document owner confirmation before permanent edits.
An agile project management tool builds a strong company culture for monitoring team performance in virtual and traditional teams. It effectively follows up and tracks the completion of project tasks, especially among remote teams. Also, it holds every team member in the dispersed team responsible for their allocated duties. Project management tools include Asana, Trello, and Jira, among others.
There are several brilliant video conferencing tools for conducting virtual meetings among virtual team members. The video call tools for virtual meetings include Zoom, Cisco WebEx, Skype, Google Hangouts, and Google Meet. Choose one or more virtual meeting software that best suits your remote workers.
Virtual teams need to be aware of the schedules of other remote workers to realize the team’s success or progress. Google Calendar is a good scheduling tool with many features that can aid remote employees in improving their team performance.
The initial stage of developing a virtual team is central to the team’s success. The virtual team leader prepares the team’s goals and formulates how the team will achieve its objectives. The team leader arranges the following elements before officially starting the virtual team operations.
It is best to choose an official name for the virtual team that plainly defines its purpose. It provides an identity for the virtual team members and their reference with the other teams or groups. You can use an abbreviation of the name during in-house discussions to create a relaxed setting.
You must explain to your team members how the team will contribute to the broader company objectives. Remote teams should understand their input to be inspired and dedicated to their goals.
Virtual team members must constantly communicate with each other and other team members. Hence the virtual team leader should ensure the availability of a comprehensive list of all team members and associated colleagues with details on their location, communication tools, and diverse time zones. Access to this information is essential not only to the virtual teams but also to the traditional teams.
Showcase how the company vision and mission statement relates to specific goals and tasks of the remote workers. Describe this using a flow diagram indicating task dependencies on the remote teammates.
Generate measurable objective key results or performance indicators for the whole virtual team and the contribution of every virtual team member. It provides clarity on the means to achieve the goals.
Setting the proper performance measures for each task will ensure accountability and build a successful virtual team. You should assess the time for each job and monitor the individual performance of the remote team.
You should create a responsibility matrix that indicates the team member involved in every task. It avoids vagueness and prevents double assigning remote workers to the same tasks. You should ensure each task has only one team member responsible for encouraging leadership within the entire team and lessening the management liability.
The leaders should summarize every process to ensure a smooth workflow with remote teams. It aids every virtual team to recognize the responsibility of the team members.
Promoting engagement in an online team environment differs from an in-person office setup. It can be hard to organize events for a virtual team; that’s why you need to use other strategies. This is where virtual team-building ideas come in.
Team-building ideas connect virtual employees and co-located teams together through online office games to enhance team spirit within the virtual workforce.
It manifests in a remote company culture that inspires, therefore building successful virtual teams.
You can implement these team-building ideas to sharpen skills and strengthen communication. Team-building challenges include typing speed races, virtual trivia forums, and many others. These team-building ideas can target a single virtual team or all virtual teams within the virtual workplace.
It would help consider the diversity of team members in a virtual team when selecting a team-building activity or game. Identify a virtual format of the team-building idea that will motivate virtual teamwork that the team prefers.
You can refer to virtual team-building activities as remote or virtual team bonding activities. These are virtual events used by virtual leadership teams to improve the well-being of remote teams. You can conduct team-building activities during a virtual meeting to make the virtual meeting fun and engaging.
Like online team-building games, team-building activities create an appealing environment that fosters team cohesion among remote teammates. Examples of team building activities are; Virtual Werewolf, Virtual Escape Rooms, icebreaker questions, Never Have I Ever, “Can you hear me now?”, and others.
Office online games are online team-building games with vigorous contests for virtual teams. Some virtual team-building games are Scavenger Hunt Activities and Something in Common. These are organized during virtual happy hours to make the virtual team relax and enhance team building.
To create a successful virtual team, you need a detailed plan showing how duties will be undertaken better or at least the same as in a physical office space.
It’s best to implement team-building activities and ensure team members communicate effectively within the virtual team.
We believe that this post has given you the key elements to consider to establish a solid foundation for successful virtual teams.