As technology advances, remote working is becoming more and more common. It’s possible to run an entire business without leaving your home, thanks to how easy it is to communicate online.
But when your team is spread out across the world, it can be difficult to keep everyone on the same page.
With these seven strategies, you will bring your team together better than ever before, bridging the gap created by physical distance. You will manage your virtual team with success, no matter how big or how small.
1. Hire The Right People
Managing any team begins with choosing the right players for that team.
Look for new hires using reputable freelance websites where incredibly talented people can answer your job ads. It’s one of the best ways to find experts that would rather work from home than in an office.
It’s even better if you can find people who already have experience with remote work. They’ll already know the ins and outs of working with a virtual team.
Before hiring anyone, give them a test project to complete.
Let them know what’s expected of them and how to go about completing the project. That way, you will get a good feel for how well they fit or if they just aren’t right for the job.
Once you find your perfect hire, make sure you set them up for success.
Have a series of videos or another form of training readily available to teach your new employees the ropes as quickly as possible.
2. Use Reliable Technology
The technology you use is the whole reason you and your team get to work remotely in the first place. You should be using the technology that best serves your purposes without breaking down on you.
No matter what technology you use, make sure it’s accessible to every single one of your team members.
You don’t want to make anyone feel like they’re not included every step of the way.
Your virtual team management tools need to be as reliable as possible. Sometimes that means sacrificing cutting-edge features that aren’t perfectly polished to make sure everyone can actually hear each other.
Getting your work done is far more important than having all the bells and whistles.
3. Focus On Processes
When you bring a bunch of individuals together, they will all have their own way of doing things.
That’s all well and good until one person’s methods don’t mesh with everyone else’s.
As the manager, it’s important for you to clearly outline the way tasks should be carried out so that each piece of the puzzle fits together smoothly. You can do this by writing standard operating procedures for each job.
When everyone is doing tasks in the same way, it ensures projects get completed properly.
Again, training videos are helpful here. Some people learn better with visual aids, so you can be sure everyone is on the same page.
4. Communicate Effectively
Communication is the lynchpin of any successful virtual team.
Different avenues of communication should be utilized for different purposes. Make sure your team knows what kind of communication to use at different times. Lead by example.
Here’s a good idea of how each form of communication can be used:
- Chat in person when you need real-time interaction or have questions that don’t need much follow-up.
- Video call for meetings and conferences with the entire team.
- Make phone calls for lengthy discussions that don’t require a face-to-face conversation.
- Send emails for official team updates and correspondence like setting meetings times.
- Send screen capture videos for showing your team members things on your computer screen when you’re not in a meeting.
Of course, these aren’t hard and fast rules. As long as you are communicating with your team and they are communicating with each other, that’s the most important thing.
5. Schedule Regular Meetings
Having a routine is crucial when you don’t have a normal office setting.
Set a certain day and time each week (or however often you like) for team meetings. Make sure they are held at times when all members can attend, no matter their timezone.
There should always be overlapping times when everyone is working — you just have to find them.
If you have a large team, it may be best to set up weekly meetings with smaller groups. Then, you can have a quick 10-minute meeting with the full team so everyone feels like they’re truly working together.
6. Utilize A Project Management Tool
Keeping track of everyone’s progress can be a little difficult when you’re not in the same place. Using email to check in on all the different project stages just isn’t that efficient.
Instead, use a project management system to track projects and tasks.
A good project management tool will show you everyone’s progress on each task so you know exactly where they’re at. It makes it so much easier to stay up to date and to know when you need to check in.
Do your research and pick the perfect tool for your team’s needs.
7. Foster A Team Culture
Even if you’re not working in the same location, you should still strive to have a team culture.
Encourage virtual friendships between team members so they can communicate outside of work. Recognize birthdays and special occasions. Make it clear to your team that they are more than just employees.
They’ll work so much better when they know they’re valued as a person.
If at all possible, have your team meet face to face once a year. It’s not always doable when your team is spread out over different countries.
But if you can make it happen, you absolutely should.
You’re in charge now, and your virtual team is going to look to you for guidance as they try to work together toward a common goal. It’s up to you to keep them on track, no matter how far apart you all are.
Now that you have these seven ways to manage a virtual team, you are more than ready to lead your team to success!
Ryan Sundling is a group marketing manager at Cardinal Group Management. He has over ten years of experience in the conventional housing industry and works with West 38 on a daily basis to help them with their marketing efforts.