Virtual Teams are the Way Forward – Here’s How to Work With Them

8 Minutes

The landscape of work has shifted dramatically, making virtual teams not just a trend but a staple of the modern workplace. With this transition comes a unique set of challenges and opportunities. Whether you’re managing a team spread across different time zones or collaborating on projects from home offices, the key to success lies in effective management and the right tools.

At Noon Dalton we’ve navigated the complexities of virtual workspaces and distilled our learnings into actionable practices that can significantly enhance how you work with and manage virtual teams. Our experience has shown that with the right approach, virtual teams can achieve, and often exceed, the productivity and cohesion of traditional office settings.

Here are some proven strategies we’ve adopted to ensure our virtual teams work seamlessly, maintain high morale, and deliver exceptional results:

7 Best Practices for Working Within and Managing Virtual Teams

With the way the workplace is going, you’ll need to embrace the virtual office space for the long term. But it doesn’t have to be an insane challenge.

Based on our experience, we’ve come up with a list of ideas to help you work more effectively with virtual teams:

1. Give Your Virtual Teams Access to the Right Video Conferencing Tools

While there are several solutions on the market, such as Skype and Google Hangout, Zoom has emerged as the most popular. When working remotely, the greatest approach to retain collaboration, trust, and productivity is to make sure you have a reliable way to communicate.

To maintain or initiate weekday check-ins with your team or company, use these video conferencing options. This will help you all relate better and give you a better glimpse into each other’s daily lives, resulting in stronger levels of trust.

2. Maintain A Regular Routine

It’s easy to lose track of time when you work from home. However, the best method to arrive at work ready and prepared is to stick to the same schedule as you would on any other working day. Keep it up, whether it’s a morning quiet time, going for a walk before work, exercising at lunch, or taking prayer breaks throughout the day. Having a specific workspace is also beneficial. It will enhance your productivity throughout the day if you can work without being distracted by household tasks or family members.

3. Create Standard, Company-wide Guidelines

Setting expectations in a remote workplace lets individuals know where their boundaries are and positions them for success. You don’t want to make a corporate policy just to have guidelines. Setting expectations about when employees should be online or how to interact effectively under these unusual circumstances is a wonderful thing for leaders to do.

Holding calls with compulsory video and audio access is one obligation that will help staff stay focused. Requesting that your team share their workspace on video ensures that they are present, paying attention, and in a focused environment during the meeting.

4. Encourage Open and Honest Feedback and Communication

When your team needs a quick read on how individuals feel about a topic, have them raise their hand to express their acceptance by making a fist (a zero in terms of approval) or five fingers (complete agreement). When the majority of people give a five, you know things are going well. Simple types of feedback like these will help you keep track of morale even when you’re separated.

5. Create a Comfortable Environment for Constructive Conflict

Make sure the team understands that just because you’re online doesn’t mean you don’t want to put up a strong fight in order to promote lively debate and sound decision-making. It’s more crucial than ever in a virtual team situation to bring up issues, unearth ideas, and engage in constructive debate as you work together to solve challenges. Debate leads to the finest solutions, establishes alignment, and brings people together to achieve common goals. Allow time for genuine debate, solicit input, be inclusive, listen to others, and make it acceptable to disagree.

6. Remember that Culture is a Shared Vision within your Virtual Teams

It’s not your workplace snooker table that makes your culture unique; it’s how you respect and treat your staff. In times of uncertainty, it’s common for leaders to micromanage, but try to give your team room to demonstrate their skill and desire. Rather than providing a list of duties for them to perform, give them the opportunity to work creatively toward a common objective and vision. Virtual happy hours, tea breaks, or parties for birthdays or achievements can also help you stay connected and positive.

7. Embrace the P.L.A.N. Rule

To make sure you get the most out of your scheduled meetings, consider embracing the “P.L.A.N. Rule”:

Purpose
    1. Establish a clear need for the meeting and a clear objective for it.
    2. Begin with the end in mind and the desired outcomes in mind.

Logistics

    1. Consider who should be in the room and what roles they should play.
    2. To maximize the potential involvement of your virtual teams, use the correct technology and software.

Approach

    1. To make more effective decisions, be deliberate and take note of your priorities.
    2. Define duties early on, including decision-making, agenda tracking, participation, and taking notes.

Next steps

    1. Focus on deliverables rather than issues, with clear and precise tasks and responsibilities outlined.
    2. Following the meeting, distribute meeting minutes along with allocated next steps.

Virtual teams are here to stay. It’s no longer only about convenience, work-life balance, or saving money. It is now and in the future a must. As the leader of your virtual team, you have the potential to make virtual work better than ever. In these unique times, what has accelerated can be a tremendous opportunity to become a high-performing team in any context. You will improve now and in the future as a result of what you have learned from this experience.