Leading By Example To Get The Most From Your Virtual Team

Over the last few years, we made the decision to have primarily a virtual team support our internal business operations.  Although all client activity is executed by local staff, we see and understand the value of a remote team — it helps us stay focused during our growth mode.

We have also received a ton of questions from colleagues and potential new staff with regards to how we work with and manage the team.  Here are some of the most common ones below:

 

  1. What kind of leadership style do you exhibit when managing your team? How do you ensure cohesiveness throughout when everyone’s miles apart from each other?
  2. How does being virtual affect your business operations and what kind of things do you have to take into account when leading an online team?
  3. If everyone’s living in different cities, what kind of resources do you need to communicate and collaborate?
  4. Since you don’t have the benefit of proximity, how do you ensure and maximize workplace productivity?

 

With the rapid advancement of technology, businesses today create much more online teams than you’d think. The concept can be scaled down to just employees working from home or having a corporate team with a representative in different cities working together. The workplace environment has dramatically changed and has allowed all kinds of businesses to source and outsource the best talent from around the globe. But how do you manage these virtual teams?

  1.  Provide Structure

    When working with a virtual team, you must provide a structure for your staff to thrive; without it and it’s easy to become ineffective plus waste resources.  This is especially true when you’re not working in the same office location. What is common, however; is to have weekly meetings, whether in person or video conference, which outline the goals of the organization and expectations of each assigned task, project or assignment. Lastly, you need to have a leadership team that supports a cohesive and collaborative environment to buy into the same vision and maximizes workplace productivity. By laying out the vision upfront and setting deadlines, it enables your team to properly execute the tasks that grow the business.

  2. Have the right resources

    Collaborating online presents unique challenges and one of them involves knowing what types of resources are to be used. Technology has come a long way and there are tons of applications and tools unique to both internal and external business functions; understanding which ones are best for your team and business should be a priority for this type of effort.

    Some of the best collaborative tools we’ve to use to increase workplace productivity with our virtual teams can be found in this article.

  3. Ensure Communication 

    Providing platforms that ensure efficient and effective communication are always a challenge in most businesses — whether you have a remote team or not.  There is an increased complexity when the majority of your staff live in different cities or work their own schedules.  A few challenges include time zones, productivity schedules, availability or priorities.  I know we have run into these challenges and what we did was develop a communication strategy which outlined the types of mediums we would use as well as when we would use them.   We were very specific and detailed things like primary messaging platform, video conference meetings, emails, phone etc. Once we made that decision, we wrote policy around it to ensure it was implemented by everyone and remained consistent with the staff.

  4. Accountability

    When managing a virtual team, there is nothing more crucial than accountability.   There is nothing is worse than having a team member who says they’ll commit to a task or project and doesn’t get it complete.  Project management tools like Trello, Asana, Podio or Evernote for business are designed to help online teams resource and manage their tasks and projects. It’s one of the most effective ways to increase productivity levels within your team and internal staff.  Of course with each tool, there are pros and cons, but overall these tools assist with communication, productivity and of course accountability.Remember -- consistency should be a priority when you're managing virtual teams. Click To Tweet

    As you can imagine, managing virtual teams are the future.  As businesses become even more agile and creative, the opportunities are endless but so are the challenges.  Virtual teams should be composed of the best talent who share your vision. Creating a collaborative environment can happen inside or outside of the physical workplace.  In fact, coworking has continued to grow to support the virtual work team.  To learn more about how coworking can assist you in supporting and growing your virtual team check out this whitepaper on “Making the Case for Coworking”. It’s all about the facts of the coworking and how you can use it to your business benefit.

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