Category: Virtual Team

The Best way to Manage a Virtual Team

When companies expand, the teams that work on a global virtual basis also grow. Since time-zones are different and distances are wide, virtual teams need to find new strategies. Virtual global management becomes a way of life; new policies and less formalization are being introduced, yet there is still a need for management in order to get the project done.

Below are 10 strategies virtual team managers should take into consideration when overseeing their team’s accomplishments:

1) Availability – Always be accessible, if possible, for your team members around the clock. They need to be in a good mood in order to be productive. Virtual team managers can help with all types of queries, including the social life and daily activities of the team members. The best managers know that their team members should not feel isolated as they work in the virtual world.

2) Meetings – Online video-conferencing or meetings via Skype and social media should take place on a regular basis. Face-to-face meetings may be harder to organize, but crucial, if at all possible, once a year. The key is to build a good rapport.

3) Casual Conversations – Building trust through informal chats are important with virtual team members. Being flexible in scheduling attendance of team members to on-site jobs is also important. Weather, road and other conditions may be a disadvantage for the member locally and that should also be taken into consideration when they are setting up their schedule.

4) Location Rotations – It’s important for team members to go visit the actual locations where their team members are working. Global rotation of team members, for short periods, is a good experience.

5) Creative Team Bonding – Team gift giving and approval of the performance of all members is important for bonding the virtual groups together. This should be carried out year-round by the team manager.

6) Time Zone SelectionMaking an effective schedule for virtual global meetings is imperative, since time zones are so different. The time and date of the meetings should be carefully organized, so all participants get a fair chance of being at the meeting during hours that are not always too early or too late for them.

7) Cultural Training – Since virtual teams have members that are scattered all over the world, it is important to be aware and sensitive to the cultural manner things are done in various settings, such as sending emails, video chats and the like, in different cultures and social settings these forms of communication and the manner in which they are conveyed may have different meanings.

8) Pre-existing Team Climate – It is important for a manager to make sure that barriers are not created among new team members and those that already have been working together as a pre-existing team. Building relationships and socialization among all members will ensure strong team performance.

9) Recruiting Guidelines – When putting a team together, it’s important for coherence as far as the education and work experience of the majority of the members is concerned in order for them to be in sync with each other. Diversity is great, but similarity in some aspects of the team membership mix is also an additional asset to keep in mind.

10) Work Opportunities – Some team members who work on a virtual basis may want to visit and move to the headquarters of the company or become part of an office environment that also works with virtual members. This should be well understood by the HR department when hiring a team player.

The Best Ways to Keep Virtual Teams Productive

Some companies do not have virtual teams because they feel like it will be hard to keep them productive; however more people are working virtually now than ever before. There are ways to keep the virtual team productive. Many companies even find that they are able to hit goals faster due to teams working in a virtual environment.

The first thing people should do when working with virtual teams is communicating the standards and set the tone for the work environment. People have to know what is expected of them in order to perform at their maximum ability.

Communication among the Team

It is a great idea to create an online space where virtual team members can get to know one another on a more personal basis and find out how they all connect with the team. Spotlighting certain team members is another way to create excellent business culture. Newsletters are another excellent way to continue communication within the team. Many business owners partner new team members with more experienced team members. This way the new and existing team member can get to know one another, build a working relationship, and learn from one another.

Communication Tactics

Since communication is a huge part of any team, communication standards should be addressed from the beginning. Business owners must tell everyone they hire the best ways to communicate with them and with others. This way the communication links will be consistent and everyone will know where to go for information.

In Person Meetings

Although the team may work virtually many business owners invest by having in-person meetings once or twice a year. This is another way for the virtual team to be able to connect on a more personal basis. It may cost more but it still helps to build team morale.

Virtual Meetings

One standard that should be created is having virtual meetings on the same day and time each week. By having these meetings the team will know how everyone is doing on tasks, what is expected and will have the opportunity to see how working together truly helps to make progress. Since all members of the team will be meeting it is important to have overlapping hours that will work with everyone’s schedule. This way everyone will be able to attend a meeting. A meeting that allows for everyone to be on video is ideal. Many people associate being able to see someone as having more of a connection.

Time Tracker

Anyone who has ever worked from home can understand how time can be fleeting. It is a great idea to add some form of time tracker to the daily activities. By keeping up with the time it takes to complete certain tasks everyone can ensure that they are making the best use of their time.

All of these things working together help virtual teams to be the best they can be. They also help to create better team morale. Everyone enjoys the feeling of knowing that they are a part of something. By having all of these keys in place the turnover rate of an organization usually decreases.

What are Virtual Teams?

Virtual teams have an old origin even though with the spread of technology it seems that this type of modern workforce is a new concept.

Ever since the creation of the Roman Empire and the coming together of current day military personnel who operate outside of their encampment, virtual teams have always existed.

In brief, geographic dispersal has been the key reason virtual teams are created.

Seven Virtual Teams

Here are the 7 Virtual Teams and a brief synopsis of how they work:

  1. Service Teams – Technical support and service is provided around the clock
  2. Project and Development teams – Decisions for all projects are made by all members
  3. Network Teams – Where a common goal is the purpose for collaboration
  4. A Parallel Team- Where it’s important to find improvements in systems and processes
  5. Work and Production Teams – Performance is ongoing and there is team membership
  6. Functional Oriented Teams – Work with management on a routine basis
  7. Action Teams – Handle emergency response situations

A virtual team refers to a group or collection of individuals who work together from divergent geographic locations. These teams specifically depend on communication technology such as video or voice conferencing, emails and fax, in order to accomplish one or more organizational tasks collectively and without having to be in the same location. The work is predominantly achieved electronically using virtual communication technologies; some team members may never get to meet each other face-to-face.

Team Building

Fiber-optic technology has facilitated the task of creating these virtual teams to communicate off-site in a very effective manner.

The scope of virtual teams is enabling many companies to find and hire the best talent without worrying about geographic location.

There is almost no need for a hierarchy within the business of virtual teams. Teamwork is the modus operandi and everyone is a team player or team leader in their own virtual way.

Many virtual team members have skills that they can share with others and all are accountable for their performance, even if they are geographically dispersed. Some employees work out of the office and others out of their home, but all know their responsibilities and carry their duties in a determined way to make the end result meaningful and well-presented to the client within a deadline.

What are some of the Challenges?

Virtual teams may deal with global time differences for one. Culture and local business customs may dampen the practice between teams. Some may disengage or lose trust; others may lack clarity and lose the cooperation factor. Priorities and goals may remain unclear and brainstorming may not work well in such cases.

Successful Virtual Teams

In order for a virtual connection to take place successfully, here are few things to take into consideration when creating virtual team membership:

  • Team members must become more efficient in team synergy.
  • Members must adapt to, and adopt state-of-the-art technologies available.
  • Resilience to change and being adaptive must be learned.
  • Flexibility is needed regarding responses to organizations and market requirements.
  • Fluidity in team membership and participation in skill assimilation is a must.
  • New members should become seasoned within a determined timeline.

In resume, virtual teams have access to each other and are provided with all types of information on a full-time basis, if necessary, across time and space, via communication technology. Common skills and complementary purposes make virtual teams interdependent in order to achieve perfect performance. Goals are shared and the work approach is such that all are mutually accountable for the success of the team, project, and company that has been established in a virtual team environment.