How to successfully manage and engage your virtual team

Setting the standards and parameters of remote work will generally give your employees an idea about how much time a particular project would take. So, your team members can plan their work accordingly.

The COVID 19 outbreak has changed the way companies do business. This pandemic has forced many companies to create virtual teams and ask their employees to work from home. Suddenly remote work has become the new norm as people prefer to work from home and be safe. Employers, who were earlier sceptical to the idea, now readily approve of this concept.

However, when you have your entire team working remotely, things can get tricky. People take the liberty to design their work schedule and work hours as per their whims. This gives rise to different issues related to work and communication gaps, which have to be managed efficiently before things go out of hand because they can jeopardise the completion of your project.

So, let us check how an employer can successfully engage and manage their virtual teams to make work from home an efficient and productive method. These seven tips will help you manage your remote team well.

1. Establish multiple communication tools

Do not simply rely on singular means of communication when you have more options. Establishing multiple communication tools has two overarching benefits:

    1. First, your team can communicate with the right person for urgent matters that need immediate attention.
    2. And, the communication process gets unified. So, your team knows what communication tools to use for screen recordings, conference calls, data transfer, etc.

This process creates clear communication channels between the team and the manager, which creates a sense of engagement within the team and contributes towards a cohesive work atmosphere, even when your team members take up remote work from home.

2. Define proper work parameters

Everyone has their individual styles when it comes to working, including their work timings. Therefore, setting the right parameters can help decrease the time required to finish a particular project. By setting the right parameters and defining proper work from home systems, you will help to reduce your team’s doubts and queries, resulting in higher efficiency and better performance.

Setting the standards and parameters of remote work will generally give your employees an idea about how much time a particular project would take. So, your team members can plan their work accordingly.

These systems should be standardised enough to allow operational effectiveness, and, amply tailor-made to allow the flexibility to your employees to achieve the task in the most efficient way they can. Use project management tools to set tasks and timings for your virtual team.

3. Provide detailed and clear instructions

Simply ordering your remote team to do a particular task is not the right or best way to manage a team working remotely. Similarly, micro-managing every aspect of the task is not productive either. That’s why good managers do not provide too many clauses while giving instructions.

However, the best way to get things going is by providing a detailed description of the task followed by an example of what and how the final product/project must look. That’s it. Then, stay away from micro-managing every aspect of the process.

Employ the right project management tools to monitor the proceedings. Let your team do it their way. You have given them adequate information, now, let them execute it. Your team is capable enough to pull off this task. Trust them and give them the right instructions necessary to execute the project to avoid any instances of miscommunication and misunderstanding. This helps at managing expectations.

4. Plan regular meetings

Planning regular briefings, same day, same time every day or every week (depending on the nature of work or project), creates a routine for your remote team. And, creating a routine is the best way to bring order, discipline and sincerity in the work from home duration.

Plus, regular meetings keep your team connected over long distances and helps to reduce their anxiety and stress. Rather than a conference phone conversation, opt for video calls to maximize the impact and effectiveness of the briefing, and, to increase the efficiency among the employees. Because video calls can recreate the feeling of an office meeting, which virtual teams tend to miss out on.

There are also many productivity apps available for free or at a low-cost today. Use these apps to stay constantly connected with your teams.

5. Build a professional work environment

Work from home can risk going the unprofessional way with distracted employees and missed deadlines. Therefore, emphasis on creating a professional work environment at the remote work locations. Stress on a distraction-free workspace and the importance of adhering to deadlines.

Assess their work with the right project management tools. Encourage your employees to maintain professional attire even while working from a remote location. Professional behaviours instil the right mindset among your employees making them more efficient and productive. Plus, it helps at managing expectations.

6. Ensure the working hours’ overlap

Despite the different timezones of your team members, make it a point to keep at least 3 to 4 overlapping hours every day, wherein, all your virtual team members are online simultaneously. Invite all your members for the overlap, even if some members don’t need the assistance of others to do their work. Being together during this period boosts the bonding and engagement within the team and provides quick solutions to some contentious project-related issues.

7. Opt for video calls over email and chatting

With technology at your fingertips, it may be tempting to send that quick email asking a query or send a text message to update your work status. But, more often, these acts and more time-consuming and, sometimes, may create misunderstandings within the remote team as well. It is better to avoid them to make the work hours more productive.

Video calls are the best way to professionally communicate with your virtual team and it is the best way to evade misunderstandings during the with from home days. Plus, it helps the team connect more personally.

Focus on getting the employees in your team to work remotely in the most efficient manner. Give them a planned schedule, communication tools, along with overlap periods. And, let your employees do the task as per their ability. The primary aim must be to complete the project within the stipulated time.

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