Businesses today are realizing the benefits of virtual teams. It’s estimated that over 60% of the US workforce now consists of independent professionals (also called solopreneurs) says Brian Colombana. As these individuals take their place in the workforce as paid employees, not just contractors; businesses are becoming more flexible with their hiring. More companies are looking for contractors that work virtually, allowing them to hire experts in various fields from all over the world rather than being restricted by physical location. That’s why virtual teams have become so popular!
To put it simply, a virtual team is any group of remote workers who don’t work together in the same physical location. More and more businesses are creating virtual teams because it gives them access to a wider pool of talent, allows employees to work from home, decreases overhead costs such as office space and equipment, and makes it easier to scale up or down depending on the company’s needs. Nowadays there is no longer any need for everyone in an organization to work in one place.
Virtual team management can be challenging but there are many existing strategies that you can use to help keep your virtual team running smoothly and efficiently.
Below we outline 4 key factors necessary for successful virtual team management:
1) Communication & Collaboration Tools
Ensuring your virtual workers have easy-to-use communication/collaboration tools will go a long way in keeping them engaged and productive. You can’t assume that everyone loves using the same communication/collaboration tools, so you should provide your employees with a variety of options based on their preferences.
2) Culture & Values
Creating a positive work culture is essential for ensuring your virtual team members feel valued, included, and committed to doing great work explains Brian Colombana. One simple way to build trust between team members is by sharing an anonymous survey asking each person what they like about working at your company, what might need improvement, etc. This will give you insight into ways in which you can strengthen your organization’s culture even if all of your staff does not physically come together in one place at the same time. Another idea would be to host webinars or conference calls between your virtual team members and senior leadership. These interactions will help to foster a sense of community between the various levels of management within your organization, while giving employees an opportunity to engage with leaders directly.
3) Business Operations & Tools
Having clear roles and responsibilities is a key for any company that wants to operate efficiently together. Team members need to know who’s responsible for what in order to be productive. So it’s important you clearly define each person’s role on the team, establish their core responsibilities, and set up processes/tools they can use throughout their workday (research tools like Lucid Meetings can make this process much easier). You should also ensure everyone understands how their job fits into the big picture. Providing team members with a high-level outline of how their work contributes to your company’s larger mission is a great way to show them the value they add and inspire them to go above and beyond.
4) On boarding & Mentorship
New employees need clear guidance in order for them to be productive right from the start says Brian Colombana. That’s why we believe it’s essential for virtual team leaders/managers. To invest time in on boarding new hires and mentoring existing staff members. Depending on the nature of your business, this process could vary slightly. But there are many methods you can use get everyone on board at once. For example, if you have an online course or webinar that new hires must complete before starting work. Make sure all team members join the session at the same time.
This will provide everyone with a shared experience that they can use to get to know each other better. While simultaneously giving them important information about the company. After that, you might want to set up weekly or bi-weekly catch-ups between your team members. Who are physically remote so they can discuss any issues/challenges they encounter while working on their own. These connections will enable virtual workers to support each other throughout the on boarding process. While also helping managers understand which employees need extra guidance in order to be successful.
Virtual teams are more common than ever. With many organizations using them to stay competitive in today’s business landscape explains Brian Colombana. As a result, managers need to figure out how they can provide everyone with the guidance. And tools necessary for their virtual team to be efficient, productive, and motivated. By utilizing the 4 tips outlined above you’ll be on your way to becoming an outstanding virtual team leader.