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8 Tips For Managing Virtual Teams

March 4, 2014

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As more and more companies operate globally, the number of people that work in virtual teams grows. Though this strategy serves as a cost-effective and long-term alternative, there are still challenges presented to managers and companies. Some of the common problems are its formalisation, and lack of clear policies on how to manage virtual teams.

Here are 8 tips you could use so you can get the most of your virtual teams:

#1: Establish team objectives

It is important to let your team members know the bigger picture of what it is they are doing together. When they understand not only their own work and role, but of the other virtual team member’s as well - they will not work as individual contributors. This means that they will not work independently and act independent.

You need to let your members know that they are part of a team with common objective and deliverables. This way, they will feel better about their work, and they will be more active when it comes to collaborating with other members of the virtual team.

#2: Create ground rules

Just because a virtual team works remotely, it doesn’t mean that they are exempted from common ground rules. In fact, ground rules are more important to be established for virtual teams.

These include setting the expected working hours for the team members; not working during lunch and break times; identifying which meetings are mandatory (via telephone or web based); amongst others.

#3: Use the right technology

An effective and efficient virtual team needs to obtain the right technology to communicate. This includes high speed internet connection, videocams, shared CRM, collaborative tools, and audio conferencing.

These technologies will be used not only for work, but for socialisation as well. Virtual teams are human beings, too - which means that they also need to socialise and interact with each other. Use these technologies to let your team get together throughout the day - perhaps in a face-to-face setting before you start a new project.

#4: Appreciate cultural differences

Since more and more virtual teams are made up of people from different countries and cultures - as a project manager, you need to be sensitive to cultural differences. Don’t assume that the virtual team members all think and act the same way.

It would be good to appreciate the differences in the team members’ behaviours and their way of working.

#5: Communicate, communicate, communicate

The key to making sure that everyone in your virtual team understands what’s expected is to be extra proactive in your communications. When you miss this essential element, people can feel isolated. As a project manager, you need to keep everyone informed and always keep the communication lines opened up wide.

#6: Adjust on time differences

Always put the needs of your virtual team members first, before your own. Don’t set up meetings that start at a time most convenient for you - rather compromise on time differences so team members do not need to stay up late or wake up too early to adjust. This way, there wouldn’t be any hard feelings from them.

#7: Be precise and explicit in workload management

As a virtual team project manager, you need to be extra diligent when it comes to assigning work to your team members. Also, you need to keep track of all the tasks and make sure that they are completed on time.

#8: Hold sprints and scrums for projects

When you assign long tasks to the team members and hope that they will be completed by the deadline, you are taking too much risks. A good way to deal with this is to give everyone shorter assignments. Implement sprints and scrums. Sprints are usually held within two to seven days to give a focused development on the project. During the sprint, daily stand up meetings (scrums) are done to keep track of everyone’s progress on the work assigned to them.

If you need to discuss more about your project and the virtual team you are looking to build, get in touch with us.