With the current pandemic you might find yourself as a manager waking up in the morning with questions on how you can keep teams motivated, prevent drops in engagement and productivity and provide support that team members need to deliver their work; all while trying to keep the business engines running.
Keeping virtual teams together can be tricky and challenging. The adage, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me," is true in communication and trust within a virtual working environment. Building virtual teams can be tricky, especially if you're working in an ever-changing business environment. But if you do the right things, maintaining virtual teams can be much easier than you might think.
The most important thing to remember about virtual working teams is that everyone agrees - or at least close enough. You want to make sure that all of your team members understand the virtual working group's goals, whether they're working on a team project or on a task that's part of their regular workday. Ensuring everyone knows the end goal is more likely to maintain virtual working groups productive and successful.
I have been working in the virtual space for quite some time now, and one thing I have noticed over time is that there is much more friction amongst virtual team members. It's not just one or two people, it's many, and it's not always about what you're looking out for in working virtually. Here are some top tips for keeping virtual teams together.
Consider those Remote Working Practices:
Be honest with the virtual team about everything from expectations to schedule to collaboration. When you are transparent with your team, they are more open to your direction. It allows them to see that they can trust you and your vision, even if you aren't always in the room. Transparency is vital when working virtually.
The other thing about being a virtual team is that it can sometimes be hard to keep your expectations aligned with your team's. This is especially true if you rely upon certain features or processes within your virtual company to run smoothly. You must keep these expectations in line with what you are working with so that you can get the most out of your virtual working relationship.
Many of us get comfortable working virtually, and our expectations about what that means are typically much different from those with a physical team. If you aren't clear on what it means to be a virtual team, you may work against the grain. You need to make sure that what you are working remotely is consistent with what you are expecting from your virtual team. Otherwise, you find things don't click, and there can be a disconnection within the virtual team.
You must be able to communicate with your virtual team regularly. This way, you will know when something needs to be done, and you can get everyone working together to finish as part of a successful mission. You want to make sure that your virtual team understands the value of communication. You are working remotely together often enough to keep tabs on their communications easily.
When working remotely, it's effortless to take shortcuts or even cut corners when you are working. Don't do this! Even if you think you are saving time, you might hurt your company more than OK by taking shortcuts that will cause problems down the line. Keep your communication lines open with your virtual team and let them know what is going on at all times. This helps to keep them working as a team rather than as individuals, and it keeps them clearly defined as a virtual team working together.
When you are working together, be available. You can't expect your virtual team to pull together when you aren't there, and they will get frustrated if you aren't there working with them. Ensure you are available to them as much as possible, and make sure they know you are always there. If you are working on a project, be sure to show up for it as well. It doesn't matter if it's just a one-time thing, but it needs to be there if you need to be there to help guide them through the process if it needs to be done.
The most effective virtual teams are those that empower each other. You might have someone on your virtual team that is great at marketing but doesn't know how to write SEO-rich articles. While they might be good at this, they probably aren't good at communicating the ideas in those articles and aren't good at convincing their fellow team members that those articles are worth reading. Make sure you make your virtual team empowered, and they will be more willing to help you achieve the goals you have going.
Communication is key when working with a virtual team. Keeping the communication lines open ensures everyone understands what's going on and that any problems or questions can be answered quickly and effectively. This doesn't mean that you have to spend every waking minute chatting with each other - some good, quality communication can go a long way!
In a virtual working group, each member knows their role, but the larger the virtual team, the more important it becomes to keep each member well-informed. Keep all of them up-to-date with events, projects, and any changes that might go on in the virtual team. This is important not only for productivity but also for virtual security. Any virtual team member could be called upon for immediate action if they aren't keeping everyone in the loop!
Any real-world business needs to manage its virtual teams carefully. Teams in a virtual working group need to work closely. They should be encouraged to communicate regularly. A regular update is essential to ensure that all team members know what's going on and what needs to be done, so there's never a communication gap.
The virtual image gives any virtual working team a sense of professionalism. All virtual team members should be dressed the same, conduct the same business tactics, and have the same authority level. In a virtual working group, members should know who's in charge, when that person takes over, and how they're supposed to interact with each other. Even the most virtual teams can be formal in their dealings with each other - after all, meetings should still be conducted by email and phone!
This may seem incredibly obvious in a traditional company setting, but it is vital in virtual team environments. Virtual working groups will naturally encounter several specific problems, from time constraints to misunderstandings of how particular tasks are supposed to be carried out. To prevent these problems from degenerating into long-standing conflicts, there needs to be a clear-cut system for resolving disputes - just like any other actual team.
Keeping virtual teams working means everyone remains motivated and accountable, while there is also a strong sense of transparency. Virtual teams can run smoothly if they know who's in charge, what the team is working on, when they'll be done, and how they're supposed to be acting. This helps create a virtual working environment that keeps everyone on their toes and can help companies succeed!