Virtual teams, which happened to be in bits and pieces until recently, are now the latest thing.
However, the widespread acceptance of virtual workplaces doesn’t dictate their viability.
The transition from an in-person to a virtual workspace turned out to be complicated, both for team members and team leaders.
After 19 months of trial and error, it is now evident that virtual teams are no cakewalk! Not only do they require an entirely unique approach for successful execution but also substantial effort and additional planning to eliminate job fatigue.
In this blog, we cover the 7 best practices to ease virtual team challenges.
So, without further ado, let’s get started!
- Employ communication tools to manage communication
- Pay attention to workflows
- Get your team involved in virtual team activities
- Encourage video meetings, whenever possible!
- Practice empathy
- Don’t focus on processes, but on outputs
On top of that, we also outline practical strategies to fill the virtual gap and bring your remote team together.
Employ communication tools to manage communication
Communication counts as one of the primary virtual team challenges.
As face-to-face interactions diminish, it’s natural for employees to feel lost and neglected. And that’s where communication tools that make distant work easier come in handy.
With tons of features that aid virtual collaboration, online communication tools not just mitigate delays, misunderstandings, and conflicts that come with remote work but also help share ideas, build trust, and save time by making long-winded explanations simpler and to the point.
These tools go a long way in discussing important projects, onboarding new hires, planning new ideas, analyzing work processes, and what not.
Considering all the avenues of communication, blocking virtual team challenges seems more feasible. Just understand the do’s and dont’s and you’ll have no strain serving virtual teams.
Pay attention to workflows
When working virtually, the absence of first-hand conversations can translate to workflow chaos amongst teammates.
Don’t fret though- the right project management software can help you overcome such virtual team challenges.
Aside from patching up teams together, a good PMS can help unify workflows, automate tasks, track each other’s activities and meet deadlines. In short, it ensures that there’s no way tasks can go unnoticed.
The bigger picture- Task management software leaves no room for errors and allows everyone to get a sneak -peek of what’s going on in the team. Moreover, it also keeps everyone involved in the conversation and eliminates complicated work environments.
If you and your team do not share the same wavelength, delays in project delivery are almost inevitable. Which is why virtual teams must invest in a project management tool where decisions are documented for everyone to see.
Get your team involved in virtual team activities
Virtual team challenges crop up when team members aren’t in the same room. In such a case, strategically designed non-yawn inducing team-building activities come into play.
Show off your creative side by introducing some fun virtual team-building activities where employees get to express themselves without restrictions. Be it encouraging employee engagement or helping your team unwind on a long day at work, you can’t really go wrong with activities like Virtual Scavenger Hunt, Remote Coffee Connect, Virtual Luncheons, DIY Craft Challenge, Classic Icebreaker Questions, Virtual Escape Rooms, and much more.
The interesting part is that these activities are quite straightforward to set up and ideal for all teams, no matter their size.
Building team camaraderie doesn’t have to be a chore. Pick any of these activities for your next team bonding sessions and let us know how it went!
Encourage video meetings, whenever possible!
In terms of managing virtual teams, video conferences are best, as per the recent global survey!
When your team is dispersed, you lose out on body expressions, which, in turn, creates misunderstandings.
Let’s say, one of your team members wants to raise their concern in the meeting but they’re hesitant. They expect that others will speak on their behalf. Or someone in your team may have something to say, but they’re finding it tricky to locate the unmute button right away.
It’s hard to pick up non-verbal cues on Zoom or Google Hangouts. The same situation becomes even more difficult during a screen share.
Leverage video meetings. Turn on your camera whenever possible and also encourage your team to do so. This helps build a personal touch and ensures everyone is looped in. It also allows you to detect whether the other person is distracted or engaged.
Video meetings need not be a ritual. But, block your time for weekly or bi-weekly video conferences to meet people face-to-face. It works wonders!
One of the biggest virtual team challenges encountered in a remote working setup is maintaining employee well-being from a distance. While some employees are enjoying the new virtual work model, there are others who haven’t yet gotten the hang of it.
Virtual leaders, on the other hand, are equally strained. Feedbacks over emails or Zoom meetings have led to disappointment and confusion.
In such a scenario, you need to establish a sense of belonging and create a culture of empathy that allows team members to understand the perspectives of each other. Showing empathy makes your team members feel valued and they’re more likely to share your struggles with you.
Given the current scenario and for workers who are transitioning to virtual work for the first time, empathy is paramount. Practicing empathy as a leader will also create a pathway to better relationships and overall emotional health.
Don’t focus on processes, but on outputs
In the virtual landscape, where employees are simultaneously balancing work and family needs in their own spaces, giving them the flexibility to do their jobs in their own comfort zone. This way they will be more productive and relaxed.
Next, schedule meetings at a time that’s convenient for everyone in your team. And rely on collaboration tools, whenever needed!
Enabling flexibility allows teams to achieve their goals in their own unique way, regardless of any hiccups. As a virtual leader, the only thing you should do is communicate your expectations, set clear goals, and be upfront on the deliverables.
Instead of focusing on the process, think about the end result.
According to Harvard Business Review, getting to know your team is one of the incredible ways to build trust in your team.
When it comes to managing virtual team challenges, the more often you communicate, the better! But this doesn’t mean setting up another Zoom meeting.
In today’s age and time, everyone goes through their fair share of hardships. As a manager, it’s your duty to communicate with your team regularly. Check up on their well-being so they don’t feel abandoned.
Best is to plan one-on-one sessions with each team member individually. Talk until your team members don’t open up. Keep conversations light and friendly. Rather than jumping to conclusions, ask your team if they’re experiencing any perplexities. How is everything on their side?
Your team doesn’t expect perfection from you. All they desire is to be heard. They look for you as a support system whom they can fall back on in times of chaos and distress. If necessary, add daily calls to your schedule and give your teammates the opportunity to ask questions, share worries, and seek support.
Transitioning to virtual workspaces isn’t something you can adjust to overnight. It’ll slowly mutate!
Amidst ample distractions, tech breakdowns, and no one to hold accountable, it’s easier to get sidetracked when working virtually.
However, embarking on virtual team challenges doesn’t have to be a tough grind. Once you’ve mastered the appropriate tactics in place, you’ll be able to build a successful globally-distributed team in no time!
Master the art of nailing distributed teams via KNOLSKAPE’s LVT Simulation that emphasizes not only enhancing the efficacy of virtual teams but also how your decisions (as a leader) can affect your co-workers’ performance and morale.