12 Tips For Managing Virtual Teams
1. Organize regular meetings with both individuals and the whole team
The best way to manage virtual teams is through clear expectations and close working relationships. With shared team calendars, you can see everybody’s availability and start to prioritize meetings with your whole team and each team member.
Video meetings are the best method for level-setting and evaluation meetings as you can convey what you want to say while showing your human side. Just don’t forget to take notes and share them for everybody’s records.
2. Be aware of time zones
If your team is international, you’ve got to bear in mind that workers across the pond can’t be expected to match your schedule. When you’re setting up your meetings, make sure they overlap on both of your calendars.
Overstepping time boundaries can lead to resentment, so it’s something to avoid when thinking about how to manage virtual teams.
3. Make communication a priority…
Outside the office, it’s easy to feel isolated, and if your team members are shy, they are unlikely to raise their concerns. This can lead to misunderstandings and missed deadlines, so it’s important to have the right communication tools in place.
Each method of communication has its own advantages: emails can include vast amounts of details, but video calls have that two-way vibe. If in doubt, combine the two!
4. …but be smart about how you communicate
It’s great to have a huge range of communication tools, but you’ve got to use them smartly when considering how to effectively manage a virtual team.
For example, imagine instant messaging is face-to-face communication. If you said an unorganized barrage of out-of-context thoughts to a colleague in a physical office, you’d probably check yourself and try again.
Keep your instant messages for collaborative work where you’re both on the same page, and save complex concepts for an email or a video call.
5. Be agile in your project management
One way of reducing confusing communication among your team is to use a dedicated project management tool.
Whether you work in an agile way, following scrum methodology or setting up a Kanban board for an easy visual representation of team and individual tasks.
It’s not just the project manager who benefits from these views. Everyone in your team can see what their colleagues are working on so they’ll keep their eyes on the prize and stay motivated.
6. Be clear with your tasks
Giving precise instructions is among our top tips for managing virtual teams. Set up your tasks and subtasks and use task templates for similar projects.
Take all of this one step further by triggering notifications or emails to remind your team of what they need to do. This consistency helps to simplify how jobs are assigned and optimizes how you spend your time.
7. Use collaborative documents
Gone are the days of a whole team writing together on blackboards — especially when working remotely.
Out with the old, in with the collaborative documents. You can work together in real time on your key files and keep everything organized and up-to-date.
8. Time tracking tools for a variety of uses
Time tracking tools cover a lot of different areas of your business.
For example, if part of your team is freelance, they can punch in their hours worked and hand in their invoices at the end of the month.
You can also use time trackers to get to grips with how long tasks take as they are done. This gives you an average time spent on tasks and you can use that to calculate the length of your projects.
9. Stand-up meetings
While time tracking staff attendance clearly has its benefits, managers need to be flexible and use their common sense. If your company is OK with flexible working hours, you don’t want to micro manage and risk affecting your team’s morale.
Consider using daily stand-up meetings as an alternative. You can still check in on how your team is doing without the pressure of intrusive management.
10. Set up a strong onboarding process
When thinking about tips for managing virtual teams, it’s easy to forget that hiring is a key part of the job. However, if you can’t meet up with your potential employees, you need very robust onboarding software.
Just like in physical offices, onboarding should be aimed at integrating a new member to the team with the minimal impact on your time or that of your new employee.
11. Encourage informal conversations
One of the tips for managing virtual teams that cannot be underestimated is bonding your staff together.
Remote workers often will never have met their colleagues in person, and distant working relationships can reduce office productivity.
Virtual team building exercises are all the rage now, with yoga classes, cheese and wine events, gaming nights, and much more happening all over the world. If you’re not sure what your team wants to do, pick a few virtual team building activities and create a web form for your staff to fill in.
12. Meet up in person!
There is nothing that brings a team together better than a real-life meetup. Of course, this only works if your team is relatively close geographically — or you’ve got a healthy budget to fly them in.
Of course one of the reasons people choose to work virtually is to specifically not go into an office, so why not go for an off-site activity such as orienteering? Just fire up your event planning software and get to work.
Now you’re ready to start your own virtual team
Whether you’re starting from scratch or making a transition from on-site to online, we hope you’ve found these tips for managing virtual teams useful.
They cover all kinds of business areas, and having all the tools on a platform like Bitrix24 is half the battle.
So good luck getting started — and don’t forget that human touch!