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successfully managing virtual teams

Successfully Managing Virtual Teams

Posted September 2nd, 2022

In today’s digital age, teams can take on many different styles. Many of us now find ourselves working in remote or semi-remote teams, with employees and colleagues scattered across the country, or even the world.

For those who are managing these teams, this can be intimidating. Not only do they face the usual leadership dilemmas, but they also have to be able to adapt to new challenges in an environment where the rules have changed.

What are the challenges of virtual teams? 

  • Potential impacts on productivity
  • Communication challenges
  • Depersonalisation
  • Work-Life balance issues

These are a few examples of the major issues that face those who work in or manage virtual teams. The nature of virtual teams means that employees lose some or all of the face-to-face interaction that comes with the more traditional environment. There are also the risks of unreliable technology. Moreover, work-from-home has made managing the work-life separation more difficult.

However, every team, no matter the industry they’re in, or whether they’re virtual or not, face challenges of some kind.

Just like any other team, there are ways to manage and overcome these obstacles.

We’ve compiled a list of tips to help leaders manage their virtual teams. 

Tools. One of the most fundamental elements of productive virtual teams is having functioning and reliable equipment. Virtual teams face challenges as a consequence of being physically separated. Technology challenges face us all at times, but providing your team with reliable equipment helps limit these issues and provides the foundation for the team’s success.

Consider multiple communication channels. It can be tempting to streamline communication between virtual team members. However, this can actually make engaging more difficult.

We suggest organising different platforms and channels for different matters. This may vary from team to team dependent on your needs, but we suggest using email for official communications on specific matters and implementing a more casual live chat for more general discussion. Video chats are preferable for situations that require more conversation and back-and-forth discussion, i.e., meetings or training.

This helps ensure productivity by making it easy for team members to organise their communication.

Delegation. When the team and the manager themselves are not in one place, it can be harder to manage each individual’s responsibilities. It poses new challenges to overseeing tasks.

As a result, it is important to take the process of delegation seriously.

Managers must plan ahead regarding different members responsibilities and ensure that everyone clearly understands their role. In a virtual team, the manager must then trust that their direction has been understood and that the team member will do a good job. 

Targets. Similarly, setting goals and targets is hugely important. you need to think through your business goals carefully and determine the right objectives for the overall team, as well as each individual member.

Due to the challenges of communicating with virtual teams, being clear in what you need and expect from each team member is key. 

Regular Meetings. Some hybrid workplaces assign one day a week that everyone must be in the office for team meetings. When this isn’t possible, it’s important that regular meetings take place with the full team, smaller groups and sometimes individuals to ensure that everybody is on the same page.

When and how you wish to carry out the meeting will be specific to your organisation, but it can be beneficial to organise meetings for the start and/or end of the week.   

Celebrate Success. Virtual work can be isolating, and individuals can feel that they spend their day sitting behind a computer screen with little to no interaction. This may leave employees feeling unsupported, and productivity can be impacted by the monotony.

As managers, it is important to celebrate the achievements and successes of team members. It is much easier in a more traditional in-person environment to celebrate one another’s successes. As a consequence, managers of virtual teams must make an effort to recognise and praise the achievements of team members and ensure that they feel appreciated. 

Manage Balance. Speaking of the monotony of a remote job, we must acknowledge how much harder it can be to separate work from one’s personal life. This impacts the work-life balance and can have an impact on an employee’s productivity, and their wellbeing.

Managers are responsible for ensuring that each team member is taking enough time away from work to recover and rest.

Ultimately, working in a virtual environment offers managers a new set of challenges, but with the right training, planning, and allowing time to figure things out, these challenges are easy to overcome.

If you are taking on the management of a team from another person, it may be beneficial to familiarise yourself with how they ran the team before you begin making your own changes.

Virtual teams and hybrid work is preferred by many professionals these days, and whilst they propose new challenges, they can also be some of the most productive teams.

Looking to train managers in your business in managing virtual teams? Our resources equip individuals with the tools to allow them to nurture a virtual team that is more motivated, inspired and productive.

Leading Virtual Teams E-Learning

Managing Virtual Teams Learning Materials

You can also help support employees that work from home…

Working from Home Successfully E-Learning

Trainer Bubble offers an extensive range of training materials in a variety of formats. Explore our full range here, or contact us to find out how we can help.

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