13 Tips for Managing Virtual Teams Effectively in 2023
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- Use an equipment provisioner that specializes in virtual team management to deliver items to your remote workers.
- Be strategic when booking video calls to increase efficiency and decrease the risk of virtual meeting burnout.
- Create an internal emoji lexicon to streamline and unify communications on Slack.
As a manager of a remote team, you face a unique set of challenges. In a traditional work environment, you'd have greater visibility of your direct reports, making it easier to track productivity, build a strong team culture through in-person socialization, and work synchronously to problem-solve quickly. But how do you achieve those same results managing a virtual team?
In a recent webinar on the future of work, Mike Gallardo, sales director for NAM at Deel, shared this insight: “In an office setting, it’s easier to get the pulse on how your team feels and what they want. When working in your home office, you have to be really proactive and reach out to people to find out what they want to work on and how they feel.”
Read on to see how you can leverage technology, processes, and communication strategies to lead virtual teams that are highly efficient and engaged in 2023.
Use a global equipment management and delivery provider
To ensure your team will be able to deliver the work you expect, they’ll need the equipment for the job. Use a workplace equipment provisioner that specializes in virtual team management to manage and deliver items to your remote workers.
A laptop, second monitor, mouse, keyboard, and noise-canceling headphones will ensure your virtual team members have the right tools for the workday and help them separate work from their other activities. Sending company swag and tech equipment can also help motivate your remote team to deliver better results.
Book video calls with intention and purpose
While having face-to-face meetings over a video conferencing tool like Zoom lets you see people and interact with them in real-time, they aren’t the right approach for every task on a virtual team. Most employees prefer to be informed about their duties or changes in the workday via direct messaging on Slack, Google Hangouts, or Microsoft Teams.
Instead, book real-time video meetings only when you want instant feedback or opinions from your team members. This includes more structured check-in meetings or informal team-building events.
As your virtual team grows, you may have direct reports working in different time zones, which complicates booking video meetings. For weekly team meetings, identify a time within everyone’s working hours. Team members can identify their working hours on their shared Google calendar.
Embrace asynchronous communication
Working asynchronously (async) is common practice for most virtual teams. Async teams don’t rely on real-time communication to be efficient. Instead, they use communication tools and platforms such as:
- Text messaging (SMS) via mobile devices
- Pre-recorded video messages
- Notes in project management tools (like Basecamp, Asana, and Trello)
- Instant messaging via apps or communication mediums (Slack, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams)
This method of communication enables remote team members to be more productive, gives them more time to craft thoughtfully written responses to feedback, and is time zone-friendly.
Provide the tools for virtual teamwork
Teamwork can be hard for virtual teams, even when ideas are communicated in the best possible way. Luckily, there are a variety of remote work tools that will help you have a productive team.
You can use online mind maps for brainstorming sessions or task-assigning tools to maintain team cohesion and a fair division of labor. These tools will help keep track of who did what and how long it took them.
Platforms like Notion, Trello, or Miro will come in handy for managing projects that require a lot of coordination. These tools are especially helpful if your team needs to coordinate with other virtual teams or work with freelancers in a virtual environment. Using project management tools will help you delegate tasks properly and diligently.
Don’t measure productivity by work hours
In traditional work environments, productivity and success are often measured by how many hours an employee works. But in virtual teams, it's best to measure productivity by goals achieved. Is the employee completing their tasks on time? Are they producing high-quality work? Are they helping your team hit your objectives and key results?
“Success in a role isn’t defined by the number of hours you’ve worked,” said Gallardo. “You can go for a run in the middle of the day or pick up your child from daycare. You can have days with no virtual meetings. And as a leader, you should make sure you lead by example.”
Set and track clear goals
Setting goals is crucial for any team, virtual or in-office. It might be even more important for virtual teams as tracking goals is the most reliable way to monitor what virtual team members have accomplished.
However, establishing clear goals is important for more than just tracking your employees. It is a huge motivating factor. Once the goals have been reached, the entire virtual team will get a sense of achievement. Setting clear goals will also allow your team to know where they stand and what is expected of them.
You can use this data to understand your virtual team's dynamics better, plan future goals and policies, and ensure your team is working in a fair environment with equal work division.
Provide autonomy and flexibility to encourage work-life balance
One of the key benefits of a virtual team is autonomy. Ideally, workers are provided with the trust and resources to complete their work and hit their goals without micromanagement, which enables them to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Every one of us has a work-life balance we worked hard to set up. Don't expect virtual team members to work longer hours just because they're working from home or in another remote location. A good team leader respects their employees’ personal time as much as their professional time.
Flexibility is also required to navigate time zone differences, as global team members will have varying working hours and holidays.
Providing your employees with more freedom can, in turn, make them more productive.
“Across the world, we are seeing a fundamental shift in attitudes as workers and employers see that greater freedom over where we work can, in fact, boost productivity and commercial performance,” said Matt Monette, UK&I country lead at Deel.
Recognize and reward achievements
When managing virtual workers, a manager should reward achievements and recognize hard work, as it increases employee happiness. One of the biggest benefits of having remote workers in 2023 is that there are a wide variety of ways to reward and recognize team members:
- Promotions and learning development opportunities
- Financial rewards (raise, bonus)
- Improved perks and benefits
- Inclusion in decision-making processes
- Virtual kudos and team spotlights on Slack
- Digital gift cards to their store or restaurant of choice
Prepare your team members for the transition to remote work
If you’re transitioning an in-office team to a full virtual team, you’ll need to prepare the team members for what’s coming. Some people may need an adjustment period before they can give you the same productivity as they did in the office. If you’re building an entirely new virtual team, there are some special qualities you should look for when hiring remote employees.
Organize team-building activities
Remote workers often struggle with feelings of isolation. To promote connections and strong team culture, host regular team-building activities and social events with your team and with extended teams.
Encourage and enable team members to book one-on-one virtual coffee breaks with their co-workers or host virtual happy hours one Friday per month. Take a look at some of the virtual team-building activities you can easily implement.
Use emojis to unify and streamline communication
Working on geographically dispersed teams involves navigating many different cultural norms. How you communicate online—such as how direct you are and what emojis and punctuation you use—may be different from a colleague in another country.
This, combined with the difficulty of conveying emotion and intention through messaging platforms like Slack, can cause misunderstandings and miscommunications.
To streamline communication as a team, identify a selection of emojis and assign a meaning to each. For example, team members could react to a group message with the eyeball emoji to communicate they’ve seen and read the message. Anyone leading virtual teams can also use this method as a way to confirm important updates and messages have been received and acknowledged by team members.
Document your team’s lexicon and ensure it’s included in new team member onboarding.
Teach your team how to focus
Some virtual employees need help finding the right space to work from or with removing distractions available in their homes. Ensure team members have the resources to set up a productive home office space and lead by example.
Managers of virtual teams should use their Slack status to communicate when they’re in focus mode. Mute notifications for short amounts of time to eliminate distractions, and block off periods in your shared calendar with “Do Not Book” notices. Taking these steps will show your direct reports that they can—and should—do the same.
Document best practices for virtual team communication
It’s easy to send a ton of emails or direct messages on Slack in a short period of time. We usually write things down as we think of them, creating a hectic maelstrom of notifications. When working in virtual teams, this can lead to some team members missing important announcements and information.
Communicate information clearly and succinctly and ask your virtual team to do the same. They should not spam the team’s chat by typing ‘yes’ or ‘sure’ but reply to the thread or use features like Slack reactions. Document best practices for internal communications and share them in an easily accessible document for all team members.
Use policy templates and guides to build your best virtual team in 2023
Need help overcoming the challenges of virtual team management? Our Quickstart Resource Bundle provides virtual team leaders and managers with the informational building blocks required to build a globally dispersed team that’s resilient and adaptable.
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- Three how-to guides with foundational knowledge on global hiring
- One ready-to-use policy template to help you manage independent contractors
- Bonus recommended resources for further learning and action
By following the guides and templates included in the bundle, you’ll confidently navigate the world of global hiring and expand your team without sacrificing efficiency. Get your free resources today.
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