How to Get The Best Out of Working As a Virtual Team.
Working and communicating using digital tools, while working remotely, certainly plays a big part in our working lives. So many of us have become familiar with working as part of a Virtual Team. Whether we are in different towns, different counties, or other countries, we are used to interacting through electronic communication.
However, whether we are just part of a virtual team or actively become part of a successful virtual team depends on so many things.
What difficulties do we face & what can we do about them?
- The correct equipment– Do not agree to work virtually as a team until you have completed adequate testing. A virtual team is reliant on the internet and computers for completing most of the work content. It is vital that adequate research and testing occur for each person's internet facility and computer setup before moving forward. As an employer, we should invest in the correct equipment to enable our virtual teams to function well. If systems and equipment cannot perform adequately, it will put the individual employee under pressure and put an additional burden on the rest of the virtual team.
- Distracting Environments – It can be complicated for some team members to work from home as they find the environment too distracting. As employers, we must accept that working from home will mean that there will be some disruptions. Always agree that the workload still has to be covered.
- A Lack of Organisation - Some team members find it too confusing without other team members' interaction. Some great employees find it tough to set out their tasks objectively. Some great face-to-face team managers fail as they try to apply the same guideless to virtual teams as they would when working in the office. As a leader, it is vital to set team and individual expectations and also to advise and make obvious how you will measure both sets of performance.
Secondly, we need to look at the more serious points, good communication and trust. They are vital to building a winning, virtual team.
- Communication – When we work as part of a virtual team, we will communicate far less often than if we work in an office together. Therefore, we are unlikely to pick up on the emotional signals that we would otherwise give off to our colleagues. Many of us will also be working from our homes, with everyday family life continuing to happen around us. So what can we do to ensure that we demonstrate a caring approach to our colleagues and ensure that we have effective virtual meetings and discussions?
- Go all out to create the "morning office vibe." You don't want your team to be affected by the lack of physical interaction with others. Get everyone from the group (working that day) together for 10 minutes with a morning coffee. The purpose is not for a work discussion! Ask each other how they feel and gain a general understanding of what is going on in each other's lives. If possible, do the same thing at the end of the day. During the afternoon discussion, you talk about how the day has gone and offer support to colleagues who have had a challenging day.
- Create an agreement that will govern the conduct of everyone's actions during a virtual meeting. Everyone must agree to limit background noise and avoid having conversations with others around but who are not part of the meeting. Everyone should commit to getting set up and also to go through the agenda before the meeting start time. The preparation will allow discussions to be productive and effective.
- Have focused regular conversations. As managers, don't forget the one to one discussions. These are essential to foster trust in you as a leader.
- Create an environment of trust - by being clear on what we expect as leaders and monitoring things regularly, our team members will trust us as they understand what to expect. Don't forget to offer help too! (Here's the link to our article on building a team based on trust)
Why not sign up to Monarch's newsletter to be the first to read other new articles. Or contact Monarch Personnel to learn how to take the first step towards building a successful team by understanding their personalities. We can help you to understand your colleagues by using personality profiling. We are currently offering a free personality profile service to enable clients to understand their teams better, (click here to get your free profile). We would love to hear from you.