Managing a virtual team

Written on 23 November, 2015 by TPP Wholesale
Categories: General Wholesale | Tags: business, online business

Advances in affordable technology have made the dream of working remotely a reality for many businesses, but what effect is this having on your management style? Use our top tips for effectively managing your team virtually.

Schedule team discussions

As a manager, you might be in regular contact with the whole team, but there's a good chance some members will rarely communicate with each other. Schedule regular times for everyone to dial in and discuss issues, have brainstorming sessions or ask questions. A weekly team meeting where you can share ideas is a valuable exercise, even when everyone is in a different location.

Make communicating seamless

Allow your team to communicate using whichever method or device suits them best. When you're working remotely, email might be the easiest way – thanks to it being easily accessed on smartphones, desktops and laptops. However, some people will prefer to talk or video conference. Consider also using instant-messaging services such as Skype, which allow people to ask questions and receive feedback in seconds.

Set benchmarks

To know whether someone is going to be able to perform well in a remote setting, you really need to put them to the test in advance. Ask potential employees to complete a task at home and give them a trial run before committing to the switch. It may also be more difficult for staff to judge how well they are performing compared to other team members. Change the focus to KPIs and be sure to give people benchmarks to work towards.

Step up security

When you have a team with members located all around the world, security precautions become more important than ever. Create rules for everyone to follow. Be certain that your staff members have a high level of competency to safeguard their computers and put in measures to manage the disposal of sensitive information.

Avoid exclusion

It can be easy to pass over remote workers when it comes to promotions, training opportunities or even social events like Christmas parties. Remember that to get the most out of people working remotely, you should offer them just as many opportunities to excel – and socialise – as their in-house co-workers. Although they are working remotely, they are still key members of the team. Consider them for any suitable opportunities in the business and invite them to team activities so they don’t feel isolated.

Watch out for over-workers

It's common for managers to worry that their employees will slack off the second they are out of the office. However, the exact opposite is often the case. Employees can find it hard to set boundaries and understand when to switch off from work. This can result in high stress levels and burnout. Keep an eye on how much work your employees are getting through and how often they seem to be logged on – be prepared to tell them to take a step back if needed.

Help your virtual team become the best they can be. Give them the freedom to get the work done, but ensure they know you’re always available to help.