There's a lot of talk these days about the benefits of virtual teams. And with good reason! A well-run virtual team can be a powerful tool for any business.
But creating and managing a successful virtual team can be tricky. If you're thinking of building a virtual team, or you've already started one and it's not quite working the way you'd hoped, this quick guide is for you.
We'll cover everything from how to find the right people to build your team, to how to create an effective communication plan, to tips for keeping everyone on track. So read on and learn how to put together the perfect remote team!
Why Is Building a Successful Virtual Team Important?
Virtual teams, or remote teams, are a great way to increase productivity while cutting down on overhead costs. Virtual teams also allow businesses to access new markets and provide better customer service. For example, an online tour booking service can employ a virtual travel agent to help customers book tours in far-flung locations.
What Are the Benefits of Building a Successful Virtual Team?
The main benefit of remote teams is improved productivity. Virtual teams have access to many more resources than businesses with only office workers. When managed properly, they can be extremely efficient.
They also allow employees to work from home or other locations that are more suited for them. This adds flexibility to their work schedules and makes it easier for people who live rurally or cannot afford daycare while working.
Virtual teams also reduce overhead costs by cutting down on transportation, rent, equipment, etc., because everyone works from their own homes/offices/etc. Virtual teams make it easier to find experts in their field who are not necessarily near the business.
Building Effective Remote Teams
There's a lot that goes into building a highly functional, highly productive virtual team. And not all of it has to do with hiring the right people.
Hiring outstanding employees is important, but you also need an excellent communication plan in place before anything gets done! Without good communication tools and plans — whether written or unwritten — your virtual team could flounder, putting your entire business at risk.
So what should you look for when hiring?
What does a great communication plan entail?
How can you keep your team on track?
These are some of the things we'll cover in this quick guide.
Let's get started!
How To Create an Effective and Efficient Virtual Team
The first step in building a successful virtual team is hiring the right people. Whether you've managed teams before or not, it's important to know what makes an effective employee. Then make sure every applicant matches up with what you're looking for!
Here are some qualities that help define an outstanding virtual worker:
- Self-starter with strong self-management skills
- Ability to work independently and take initiative without close supervision
- Strong communication skills (written and verbal)
- Ability to meet deadlines consistently and thoroughly
- Flexibility in hours worked
- Ability to manage multiple projects and priorities
The best way to find out if someone has these skills is through an interview. If you don't have the time or expertise to do this yourself, The Virtual Hub is ready to help you build your very own virtual team!
If your organization is considering building a virtual team, you're probably wondering what exactly goes into creating an effective one. Well, there are many factors that contribute to building effective virtual teams, but the first few should always be trust and communication. You can't have a strong team without both of these ingredients in place!
Building trust with your team takes time and effort. Start by sharing information about yourself so they know who they're working with. LinkedIn profiles are great for this!
Also, share articles or videos about your industry so they know where you're coming from when discussing projects.
Of course, you'll also need to be trustworthy yourself — meaning timely responses to emails and phone calls ( Skype chats!) Don't leave people hanging, even if you're stuck in a meeting. They'll appreciate the candor and respect you for it!
Once trust has been established, you can move on to building a concrete communication plan. Since most will be working from their own homes and might even be in different time zones, it's important that they have access to tools that allow them to communicate with each other easily and frequently. There are many ways this can be done — from Skype chats to Google Hangouts — but here are a few of our favorites:
- Google Drive: This is great for collaborating on documents and projects together. It allows team members to retain revision history so no-one overwrites someone else's work or leaves outdated versions around! And anyone updating a shared file doesn't have to worry about sending the most recent version back to everyone else — changes will be sent automatically.
- Slack: One of the many communication tools and file-sharing apps. It's similar to Microsoft Outlook, but it allows team members to message one another about any project they're working on. You can also share links and images without clogging up your inbox!
- Asana: This is a really cool project management software that allows team members to keep track of every deadline. It also provides task reminders through email or text messages, as well as notes and attachment uploads.
- Trello: Trello is a team collaboration tool that lets you organize projects by list or card — super easy! Each task comes with its own checklists and due dates, so deadlines are easily achievable. Plus, its drag-and-drop interface makes collaborating (and reorganizing) and managing virtual teams as easy as possible.
- Airtable: This is a great tool for managing projects, schedules, and tasks. It lets you create forms to collect information from team members, as well as set up reminders in case anyone misses a deadline. There's also a calendar feature that allows you to keep track of everything going on with your virtual team!
No matter what app you use for your virtual meetings or which project management tools you use, the most important thing is to implement a system that works for everyone. Don't be afraid to mix up the methods you use to communicate — for example, have a daily call on Skype but put important project updates in Asana. Mix it up and you'll find the system that works best for your team!
Create a Culture That Encourages Collaboration Between Virtual Team Members
- Encourage collaboration among all virtual team members through webinars or Skype chats to discuss common challenges
- Create a shared workspace where your remote workers can post updates, ask questions, etc. so everyone is on the same page
- Use tools like Trello and Slack to share files and messages across several projects at once
It's important to encourage collaboration between virtual teams while they are working on various projects. If people are not communicating with one another about what they're doing, it will be difficult for all of you to work together effectively.
A lot of organizations struggle with integrating virtual teams because the communication habits that come naturally within an office aren't there when everyone works from home! Be sure your team understands how important their communication with each other is to the success of your company.
It's important to hire quality employees who will take accountability for their actions. Virtual teams work best when individuals respect one another enough to communicate openly about what they're doing and how it could be improved upon.
How Long Does It Take To Build an Effective Virtual Team?
Building and managing successful virtual teams can take several months. The time needed to build trust and communication between you and your virtual team members.
Be sure to actively engage with each person, starting at the beginning of the hiring process. You could even set up a few one-on-one video chats (via Skype) to get to know them better. If you choose the right people, who are willing to communicate regularly and honestly about their work expectations, it shouldn't take long to iron out internal issues!
Tips for Managing Virtual Teams Effectively
Keep the Lines of Communication Open Between Yourself and Your Virtual Team Members
On a daily basis, send out an email to your remote employees for them to share (a) what they accomplished, (b) what their goals are for that day, and (c) anything else they want you to know. This way, everyone is aware of where the company stands, whether or not anyone has hit their goals yet for that day, etc.
Be sure to schedule regular (weekly/bi-weekly) virtual meetings with all your remote workers so you can see how they're doing! Even if it's not face-to-face time, this will go a long way in building trust among your virtual teams.
Keeping Track of Tasks and Delegating Them Effectively
When building successful virtual teams, it's important that everyone is clear about what their responsibilities are.
To create this plan, start by listing down everything that needs to be completed on a task-by-task basis across all departments/jobs (e.g. marketing, sales). Then take the top 5-7 tasks that need to be completed and assign them to individual team members.
Make sure you communicate this information clearly with your employees about their specific responsibilities.
For example, if one of your virtual assistants is in charge of scheduling social media posts for client accounts while another assistant manages client invoices and payments, make sure both workers know how much time they should spend on each task for maximum efficiency.
If you don't want to overwhelm your virtual assistants with too many responsibilities, set up a TO-DO list in an online task management tool to delegate tasks accordingly.
Praise Each Other for Work Well Done
Another great tip for building and managing virtual teams is to give your employees praise when they've done something that deserves acknowledgment.
For example, if one of your team members was able to secure their client an amazing deal, send them a personalized thank you note through email or take them out for lunch at their favorite restaurant! This way, everyone feels acknowledged and appreciated on your remote teams!
Don't forget to celebrate the milestones your virtual team members have reached with them! This can be as simple as sending a handwritten note or having a quick Skype session to congratulate them on the progress they've made. A sense of appreciation will go a long way in building strong working relationships between you and everyone on your team!
Building a successful virtual team can be the key to unlocking a whole new level of growth for your business. By leveraging the power of technology, you can connect with top talent all over the world and create a strong, cohesive unit that is productive and efficient. We hope this guide has given you some ideas on how to get started building your own virtual team. If you’re ready to take the next step, book a call with us now and let us build your dream team!