Virtual teams are becoming the way of life for many companies. With so much technology making it possible to work with people across the world, how can you stay on top of things?
Well fear not as we have a few tips here that will help make your virtual team effectiveness better than ever, get more done and stress less.
Whether your virtual team is down the street or across seas, these tips will help make projects smoother for everyone!
Let’s get started!
1. Stay Organized
First on our tip list, and we’re already getting to the heart of the matter: Simply stay organized!
We will never say it enough, when it comes to managing virtual teams and more generally remote work, organization is king.
Review the work attribution and delivery process
It’s important to set up an easy way to assign tasks, ensure everyone is working on the right things, and delivering them. Make sure that all of these aspects are available for everyone so no one falls behind.
It’s also good if each person knows what someone else is working on so there’s no overlap or confusion when it comes time to execute tasks.
Get the right project management tools
One of the best tips for team effectiveness in a virtual setting is to use an affordable project management tool, ideally one with free or low-cost options.
This will help your remote employees to stay on top of what’s happening in current projects that your team is working on.
One example can be Basecamp, which is a great tool for creating shared to-do lists, document uploading and sharing, and more.
To help you out, make sure to read our previous Top 5 Productivity Tools blog post.
Use calendars to organize your virtual meetings and events better
If you want your team members or other business contacts to be aware of your upcoming events or meetings, don’t send them thousands of emails about it, use Google Calendar instead.
You can also share upcoming events, virtual team meeting invites and sync calendars to see what everyone is up to each morning.
2. Implement Multiple Communication Tools for Your Team Members
You should also set up multiple communication tools for your virtual team. This might sound counter-productive, but you don’t want to send an email to your team or team leader every time you connect online, or to confirm that you read the agenda for this afternoons meeting, or to wish everyone a great end of day.
As working from home has become the new norm many software solutions have emerged making time tracking and communication easier to do.
Use emails for large updates or work delivery
Email is still one of the best ways to stay in touch with people at all hours of the day. However, it somehow remains a formal way to deliver a message.
Important updates and completed tasks deliverables, are better sent by email. Updates on team work process, announcements about important company news, changes in strategy, next month’s agenda, etc are also best via email.
Use chat for regular communication
These tools can be used for different purposes such as small talk and general chit chat, sharing business tips, and creating company culture amongst your virtual team.
Use video calls for face to face conversations
If you want to have a face to face conversation with a colleague, make use of video calls. This way you will be able to see each other and talk directly.
It sometimes helps to use direct communication to solve a problem.
Use tags and comments on your shared files or documents
Add tags and/or comments into the shared files and documents to call someone’s attention on a particular line or topic.
This can be very useful and time efficient especially if a file is shared by different members of the team, or with clients or partners.
A tag will help you to find what you need easier, faster, will come in handy on larger projects and save you a lot of time.
Create short informative videos
Nowadays, people are more and more attracted to videos than ever, and don’t be surprised, but this is also true in the workplace environment.
Sometimes, creating a short informative video that can show a person how to do something in a few seconds is a more effective communication tool than a full written process. A great software for this type of communication is Loom, which allows you to record yourself and/or your screen.
A video might just be easier to digest and clearer to understand for the employees, so give it a try!
3. Keep in Touch With Your Team
When working in a remote environment, it’s easy for people to think they can go days or weeks without talking to anyone else from the office.
But the truth is that it can cause people to feel disconnected from their team, and it can also make their workweek more stressful.
One of the greatest tips for virtual team effectiveness is then to make sure you’re communicating with your colleagues on a regular basis.
Plan regular virtual meetings
Now that you defined the right communication and collaboration tools, plan for regular team meetings throughout the week.
But don’t just organize video conferencing meetings for the sake of planning a meeting. Keep communication open, however scheduled meetings do need to have a defined purpose.
Also, make sure you create a detailed agenda for those weekly calls to help manage virtual teams in an effective way. Indeed, all employees will be able to come prepared and win time on setting everything up.
If regular meetings with a specific agenda aren’t necessary for your business, then consider organizing virtual coffee-time on Monday morning or Friday afternoon for half an hour up to one hour. This will allow your virtual team to keep in touch during a dedicated time and won’t affect work productivity.
Consistency is key
Although collaborative efforts are encouraged, with workforces working from home, it’s common to see groups come together for a specific project then break apart afterwards. Many people are assigned to a task, and then go back to their own jobs with little communication afterwards.
This makes it hard for members to feel like they’re still part of the team once the project is over. So try and maintain contact even after you’ve finished a project. It’s important to make members feel that they are still part of the team.
In many virtual teams, some members feel isolated because of the lack of in-person meetings. So don’t wait for other people to initiate conversation with you, just do it!
Try to maintain daily contacts with your colleagues and remember that communication is one of the basics for a successful project and team effectiveness.
Meet in person once in a while
Remote work doesn’t mean that you’ll never meet your coworkers.
Planning an office meeting every two months or quarter can help team members bond and get more familiar with each other. The team can then become closer which is great for collaboration!
If you can’t meet in person, then think about organizing a virtual seminar or event to bring something different to the table. At Woyago, we offer virtual parties in Paris and virtual visits of Paris tailored-made for businesses like Netflix, Airbnb and Apple! Have a look at our tours, you might be surprised!
4. Emphasize a Shared Understanding of the Goal(s) and Tasks That Need To Be Completed
Another tip would be to emphasize the understanding of the targeted goal. In many cases, it’s easy for people to understand what they need to do but not why.
And if people don’t know why something needs to be accomplished, they are less likely to complete it, and this might affect your virtual team effectiveness.
Provide clear deliverable briefs
You already have an idea on what you need or expect from them, but stating it clearly is the best way to make sure everyone is on the same page. You don’t want to micromanage the team, nor to lose time afterwards on correcting things that should have been asked in the first place.
To avoid any misunderstandings, it’s then important to provide clear deliverable briefs to all virtual team members: think about deadlines, examples, process reminders etc.
Communicate on the context of the given tasks
One way to emphasize the importance of a task is by providing detailed background information on why the task needs to be completed.
We recommend that you outline what has been done and what’s outstanding to finish the project. This will help to better assess the individual contributions of each team member and highlight their impact.
Specify how it will benefit everyone involved
When a team sees the big picture, they feel more motivated to work on it.
A clear understanding of what needs to be done and how it will benefit the company will make each member feel like they are working towards a larger goal and a part of the team.
5. Know When Your and Their Work Hours Are
Understand your productivity clock
As a remote worker, you are free to work from anywhere and at any time as long as you’re getting your work done.
Some hours of the day might be better for you than others, depending on your lifestyle, so it’s good to know when you’re most productive so that you can plan ahead and set aside blocks of time each day to work.
Have your virtual teams do the same
Managing virtual teams also includes briefing them on best practices you have noticed yourself. They should also be able to define their own high-productivity schedules and manage their time accordingly.
Set some common hours employees should be connected
Just make sure that there is a minimum and consistent set of common work hours for everyone. This way, if a coworker has to call you or other team members during these times, she/he knows you will be available.
This is even more important if you are collaborating with remote employees from all over the world. Having to work from either different time zones or long distances can lead to communication breakdowns and difficulties staying on track. So it’s important to schedule time to connect regardless what time zone your employees or colleagues are in.
6. Keep an Eye on the Work / Life Balance of Your Team
Talking about work schedules, the next best practice is: Keeping an eye on the balance between work and personal life your team deserves.
Don’t let the team work crazy hours
When you work from home, the limits between office hours and personal time are so tight. Between computers laying out on tables and phone alerts of new emails coming in, it can be challenging to go offline and disconnect.
However, it has been proven that the longer you work, the less efficient you will be. As a team leader, always keep in mind the gap between professional life and personal one, and show all team members the way to better work/ life balance.
Make sure they have a dedicated space
If possible, try and create a room in your house or apartment where no one else is allowed so you can focus on getting work done instead of being distracted by other people or noise.
The same is applicable to your virtual team. If it is impossible for some of the employees because of a lack of space or any other reason, then maybe consider providing them some solutions to help them get a dedicated space.
For instance, think about reinstating one or two days work from the office, or investing in noise-canceling headphones. Another option could be to offer your employees a membership or a discount at a local coworking space near their homes.
7. Keep Records!
A good way to keep everyone up-to-speed and motivated is by sharing the team’s successes. This encourages everyone to continue doing their work so that they can be a part of these accomplishments.
Keep track of the current projects
If you’re using a project management application, keep a record of all milestones reached, issues that need to be resolved, and action items that need follow up so that you can easily refer back to said milestones and issues, as well as action items.
Find the right balance for project tracking
Be diligent about checking in with a project manager or customer every once in a while and stay on track with whatever goals were created for the project. It’s even better if you can stay on top of these goals without being prompted, just to show that you’re a team player.
If the project is particularly challenging and spans multiple months, have weekly meetings with the entire team each week if possible or at least once per month. In addition to keeping everyone up to date on what’s going on, these meetings can help identify any roadblocks in the project that need to be addressed.
Acknowledge employees’ achievements
Keeping track of what’s been done is also the occasion for you to acknowledge each team member’s individual contributions.
Recognition can take the form of a simple virtual pat on the back or an email to inform the rest of the team that you appreciate them.
Giving praise for even small achievements can go a long way in helping employees feel involved and invested in their work. Which is especially important if they’re not always physically present at the office.
8. Stay Up to Date on Remote Management
Follow remote best practices
When you’re first starting out on a remote project, there will be tips and best practices that you can follow that will make your experience easier and remote work more effective.
Make sure to seek tips from other remote workers and share that knowledge with new virtual team members who are just starting out. And, don’t be afraid to ask questions when you’re having trouble with something. There’s no such thing as a silly question!
Check out new organizational, communication and technology solutions
In this digital fast-evolving environment, many new tools emerge every day, making our remote worker life easier, more productive and organized.
Stay up to date with those and don’t hesitate to try new systems and technology to see if that might be a great fit for your team.
Many offer free trials, so make sure you enjoy one of those to help you manage that virtual team of yours!
Working effectively while remote doesn’t have to be a complicated affair.
With the tips above, the right technology, communication, processes, tools and solutions, your remote teams will be able to become more efficient and effective, as well as spend less time trying to make things work.
Start taking action today! You’ll see that by following these best practices, your virtual team effectiveness will increase significantly.