As the time passes by, we can see more and more startups relying on virtual teams. These teams are composed of members that live and work remotely. But, why has this trend reached this much popularity in the world of business?
It seems that the main reason behind this is cost efficiency and access to a much larger pool of potential applicants. The costs of operating from traditional offices is high. On top of that, startups that go with these types of teams offer flexibility that many big businesses don’t.
But, the question is, how you manage such a team? We already know that leading a team through a project can sometimes become a real hustle, especially if members are located around the globe.
Fortunately, the rapid development in the field of internet technology and hardware empowered managers to successfully handle teams even when there is no centralized office, and team members are living and travelling around the world.
We have compiled this list of methods to help you overcome challenges that may arise when leading and managing virtual teams.
1.) Inheriting A Virtual Team:
In case you are inheriting a virtual team, you will need to gather as much information as you can. Your focus should be on understanding how your predecessor led it. This is essential when you find yourself in this situation. Cover everything, from the software tools they are using for project tracking and communication, to how effective each team member is and how strong are the bonds between them.
2.) Test New Employees:
When hiring new employee, you have the chance to do something that is not commonly done when hiring members for a local team. Instead of hiring someone full time right away, give them short-term work and, if you are happy with how they handled it, move on to hiring them full-time. Also, make sure to help them get adjusted to your company and learn what is their role.
3.) Find Ways To Compensate The Physical Distance:
Team building and team bonding are things that can casually happen during work hours in local teams. But, with virtual teams, this is not the case. People say “out of sight out of mind” and it is really true. Many virtual teams fail because managers don’t pay attention to this fact.
Fortunately, there are tools that can help team members bond in the virtual environment. Project management software and online chat rooms should be used to create opportunities for team members to be able to chat both formally and informally.
4.) Delegating Tasks:
Delegating tasks and overseeing progress is way easier with local teams. The legacy methods are simply unusable in a virtual team setting. This is why managers of such teams depend on task management software.
This software tool will allow you to create all tasks in a spreadsheet and add the time frame for each task. With a simple click, all the tasks can be assigned to team members. You can add additional information in notes for each task and team member, and oversee the progress of each one in real-time.
5.) Track the Time Spent On Tasks:
Tracking time spent on tasks is a very important part of virtual team management. In most cases, local teams have fixed working hours, but this might not be the same with virtual ones. And, time tracking really shines when it comes to financial benefits.
A time tracking tool is a standard feature with project management software solutions and it will allow you to have access to data for future project costs. Also, you will have accurate data, so that you can value the work in progress, especially if you decide to go with flat rates.
6.) Don’t “Over-Work” Team Members:
Time tracking tools can help you maintain the effectiveness of your virtual team by ensuring you don’t stress them out. Having an insight into all the deadlines and the time needed to complete each task, you will be able to plan accordingly.
Project management software helps you track time, so that you can create enough room for your team to complete each tasks in a timely manner, no matter how complicated it might be.
7.) Utilize Screen Sharing Tools:
Sometimes, people get stuck while they are doing their tasks, and the only way to help them is to be there and show them how they can overcome that problem. You can’t just walk to their office and help them out. But, what if the problem is critical?
The screen sharing feature is a standard part of project management tools and can be a real project saver in critical situations. Any team member will have the ability to share their screen so that another person can see exactly what the problem is. Furthermore, you can allow people to control another computer remotely.
8.) Collaboration On Documents:
During project progression, there will be documents that require editing by several team members. Juggling documents via email often results in incomplete documents. Project management software is an excellent option in this case. File sharing and collaboration features will raise the productivity on another level and help team members easily access all the spreadsheets and documents they might need.
9.) Standardize Project Management Procedures:
No matter how small a team is, project management is not something to be handled via chat and email. These methods can lead to an unmanageable mess. This is why you need to establish a project management system.
Project management software is an all in one tool that can help you increase effectiveness and productivity of your virtual team by keeping all the channels of communication open. On top of that, you will have a complete insight into all project relevant data through real-time reports of progress and time tracking.
Team performance heavily depends on the structures and processes used to coordinate work and manage communication. This goes for both virtual teams and standard ones. The main goal should be to maximize the utilization of new methods and to quickly overcome barriers that the geo-distance can present.
In any case, there are many articles online that could help you broaden your perspective on this matter. Feel free to do your research and gain as much knowledge about virtual team management, because it seems that virtual teams are here to stay.