How to Effectively Manage Your Virtual Team

It’s no secret that recent world events have created a massive shift to online and remote work. While this creates a huge learning opportunity for many professionals, it can prove especially challenging for managers and team leaders, who not only need to learn how to work remotely as an individual but also manage the productivity and problems of a newly-remote team. 

Virtual Internships are no strangers when it comes to remote work opportunities, and understand the vast complexities of remote work culture. Here, we will discuss several points that can assist team leaders and managers in learning to effectively manage a virtual team!

Establish a Remote Company Culture

First and foremost, creating and establishing a solid remote company culture should be considered by any team or company leadership. There are many important aspects to this – creating suitable remote working policies and procedures, supporting a healthy work-life balance for your teammates, and ensuring clear communication.

If your organization’s policies and documentation were created prior to the era of remote work, these may need to be updated to encompass the new remote work landscape of your organization. There are a few things that managers could consider when updating remote working policies – these include; how often a remote worker should visit the office (if at all), which working hours remote staff should be available when virtual team meetings will happen, and how often one-on-one meetings with an employee’s supervisor will take place. There should also be policies on technology use to ensure the best method of communication is adhered to across the board. It would also be wise to consider and put protective measures in place for employee and company privacy.

Promote a Healthy Work-Life Balance

As a manager, it is important for you to consider how the new remote work environment can affect each of your team members. The work-life balance line can become incredibly blurred when someone’s home also becomes their office, especially if they are brand-new to working remotely. Many studies are suggesting that even with the flexibility of working from home, many people actually end up working longer and more frequently than if they had to travel into the office each day. It’s important to consider the other responsibilities that each of your team members may have which could hinder their availability outside of set work hours.

Set a Structure and Plan Accordingly

Defining a set working system that all your staff can commit to is not always simple or easy. However, setting a standard operating procedure (SOP) will help your staff to have a better understanding of what criteria are expected for tasks and projects. This can be achieved through having a downloadable manual or plan document, which your staff can refer to at any time or place.

Scheduling frequent meetings is also a good way to ensure everyone in your team is on the same page and feels connected and engaged. Regular meetings do not have to be long ones, as these may have the opposite effect. Short, often, and effective meetings can help the whole team bond and encourage brainstorming and creativity among team members. 

Invest in the Right Software

The choice of which software to utilize for remote work & communication is one of the most important considerations in managing a virtual team. Many software programs and applications have been created over the years to ensure communication, scheduling, and workflow are delivered smoothly and are easily accessible for individuals.  

1. Software for Communication and Collaboration 

Slack, Zoom, Cisco Webex, and Skype are just a few examples of some of the most popular applications created to manage communication in a remote work setting. While webchat services and instant messaging can be quick and effective in certain situations, they may not be a proper substitute for a face-to-face conversation. Even in a remote work environment, face-to-face video chats are still possible and can prove incredibly effective at helping teammates feel connected and engaged.

2. Software for Project management 

Project management software is vital in both remote or non-remote work culture. These programs help managers to delegate tasks quickly and help team members to stay updated on the tasks they are supposed to complete. There are dozens upon dozens of top project management software options to choose from, ranging from zero-fee to affordable monthly or yearly pricing plans to suit any budget. A few examples of top project management software options include Zoho, Asana, Clarizen, and Trello.

3. Software for Scheduling 

A collaborative calendar is a must when it comes to virtual working. As you and your team members will be working at different hours and schedules remotely (not to mention across time zones if you’re a global company), you will need an accessible calendar that organizes everything from set working hours to a list of all upcoming events and deadlines. This can also help in scheduling meetings or training sessions. There are many calendar applications you can consider such as Calendly, Doodle, or even Google Calendar.

Managing a virtual team is a combination of learning, trial, and error. There are many points to be considered when an organization makes the move (whether temporary or permanent) to remote work, so as a manager, don’t be afraid to ask your teammates what is currently working for them and what is not. As each team is incredibly unique, some components of your remote work plan may work differently for others. In the end, work to discover what options and strategies work best for you and your team!

Content by Tyler DeVice & Hang Nguyen

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