The benefits of working from home long term have been paramount, and many companies, realising this, have opted to support virtual work for the foreseeable future. Managing virtual teams, or even just being in one, is very different from what we’re all used to and we all need to adapt if we’re going to be successful virtual managers and coworkers. Here are 7 ways you can facilitate and support a high-functioning virtual team, for remote and hybrid work.
1. Make sure everyone has the tech they need
Making sure team members working from home are fully equipped with the tech they need is the first step to ensuring work days run smoothly. This could include helping them get all the programs they need on their PCs at home, or letting them take home work computers and other equipment, like headsets and mics. If you’re facilitating a hybrid office, you will also need to ensure that everyone has access to anything they need to work together seamlessly.
2. Communication doesn’t have to happen in real time
We all know how exhausting virtual meetings can be, with people talking over each other, dealing with internet connections and more. But not every presentation or meeting has to happen in real time. Rather, consider using your tech to set them up as a task with a deadline. For example, if there is a presentation to be given, the presenter can screen record themselves giving the presentation and send it off to the rest of the team with a deadline for when they need to have viewed it by. From there, you could have one-on-one meetings for feedback, as these are much less overwhelming, then sending these onto other team members to review if anything important is discussed in detail. The same application goes for speeches, training, announcements, etc.
3. Manage availability
The main gripe about working from home is the feeling that you’re always at work. This is often exacerbated by clients and managers contacting team members outside of office hours. Team leaders need to give their employees the space to define their working hours and ensure that management and clients accept that these will not be encroached upon unless otherwise stated. Individuals can also stand up for themselves here, politely letting others know that they are not currently at their desk, giving a time when they will be able to assist.
4. Show change in a positive light
Most of us are uncomfortable with change, especially in a working environment where we don’t want any of our weaknesses to show. Tech is constantly changing, and since working from home can be very much rooted in tech, you can bet that there will be regular changes made to the working day, programs and equipment. Keep everyone motivated by framing these changes positively. Change in tech represents science moving forward and a company’s ability to afford better and more efficient options. Remind your team members that these changes are taking place not to unsettle them unnecessarily, but because the work that they have been doing has been successful and that every step forward should be celebrated.
5. Have more one-on-one virtual meetings
Even though many people may be enjoying working from home, there should always still be a social aspect. Encourage your team to take virtual lunch and tea breaks together to chat and touch base with one another. For work-oriented meetings, it is also preferable and more productive to do these one-on-one rather than in a big group, avoiding Zoom fatigue. Get everyone to try to have one virtual face-to-face video meeting a day to stay in the loop with their friends and colleagues, touch base with office workers or keep up to date with what’s happening in the company.
6. Project manage correctly
The key to a high-performing virtual team is the same as with any team. A lot of it comes down to project management. If you are delegating too little work, when there is a full day’s work to be done, your team will feel overwhelmed because it’s not what they’re used to. But if you’re demanding too much, while the tasks are still getting done, they may not be to the best quality possible. Careful and productive delegation can be a skill in itself, especially when coworkers aren’t in an office together, so make sure you have a winning formula.
7. Prioritise work-life balance
This is a delicate balance that many people find difficult to manage, especially when working in an office with a long commute. The pandemic has thrown us a unique opportunity to find out how our personal lives differ if we work from home, or spend some time working at home with periodic days at the office. If social media is to be believed, people have found the time, energy and motivation to spend more time with their pets and families, cooking, exercising and getting better at their hobbies. If you have a virtual or hybrid team, it is imperative to support this better and more productive balance. If you look after your team members, they will be sure to better look after their work and each other!
The Virtulab’s flagship product, Virtuworx can make managing virtual and hybrid teams easier than ever, as well as giving your team members a platform that feels like an authentic office experience. If you need any other virtual or IT tools to help you get the job done, you can also take a look at our stable of VirtuServices.
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