What can you do to have a strong virtual team?

The recent pandemic has taught us that people can collaborate just as well from their own homes. Digital teams, also referred to as dispersed teams or remote teams, are groups of people who collaborate using virtual communication tools from different locations and time zones.

Smart businesses understand that if they want to remain competitive, they must accept remote workers as all or part of their workforce. Not only would this vastly expand your talent pool, but it will also save your business money on overhead and infrastructure. As a result, you’ll be able to put more money into innovation and development.

Virtual teams have become a necessity for businesses now. So try out these tips so that you’ll have a virtual team that’s just as productive than traditional employees.

  1. Obtain buy-in.

While you could be the company’s ultimate decision-maker, you must ensure that the executive team is on the same page when it comes to recruiting virtual talent. There will be internal strife if this does not happen. Offering managers training on the mentality of remote employees and how to handle and incorporate them into the business can be beneficial. It’s easy for your remote employees to fall victim to the “out of sight, out of mind” mindset if you don’t stress their importance. Managers handle virtual workers the same as conventional employees when they see them as an important member of the team.

2. Make a strategy.

The majority of current businesses’ first foray into virtual teams is to combine remote and conventional staff. You’ll need a plan to do this effectively. This begins by seeing “going remote” as a strategic advantage rather than a one-time strategy, and explicitly communicating the advantage to attract top virtual talent.

3. Set specific goals and objectives.

When everybody in a team does well in their individual positions, the team as a whole is stronger. Any leader who wants to create a successful team must first understand individual team responsibilities, set clear goals, and communicate transparency. After all, if the team members are unsure of what is expected of them or what part they play in the team’s success, they will not achieve the results you want. Leaders should pay special attention to clarifying individual team responsibilities and areas of responsibility, as well as goals, today, when routine touchpoints and check-ins can be more difficult to come by. They should also keep in mind that transparency is a two-way street.

4. Deploy the resources that are needed.

Virtual talent will fail if it does not have a solid foundation based on cutting-edge technology. The foundation of a diverse workplace is tools like Slack, Google Docs, and Zoom. These teamwork tools make it simple for teams to work together smoothly and also help with another important aspect of success: establishing a culture. It’s also important to ensure that office teams can collaborate effectively with their remote counterparts. To build a smooth work cadence, you must ensure that there is infrastructure in place to facilitate cooperation between these two groups of staff.

5. Speak easy.

When managing a virtual team, this second suggestion does more to create culture than the first, but it will also be catastrophic if the first isn’t in place. If your virtual team communicates carefully for work-related tasks, a space for coworkers to talk about things other than work will help to create culture. It allows team members to get to know one another better, allowing them to bond over interests other than work.

The best organization cultures have deep social ties flowing through them, whether it’s through unstructured chatter at the start of virtual meetings or chat channels dedicated to everything but work. If the team is virtual or not, it is critical that they have the opportunity to form social connections with one another.

6. Face-to-face meetings are recommended.

You heard that. For hundreds of thousands of years, humans have built camaraderie and community in person. Nothing will ever be able to replace real-life experiences, no matter how well you implement the four guidelines above. The degree to which you will implement this recommendation will depend on your company’s resources. Quarterly meetings are the perfect real-life meeting cadence for certain organizations. Others will have to wait until the end of the year to see their face-to-face teammates, which means your annual party will have to last the whole year.

At the very least, you should meet virtual team members in person during onboarding or within three months of their start date; most new hires decide whether to stay or go during this time period, and the chance to meet in person will sway their decision in favor of the former. While technology may be on the verge of making the team entirely interactive, a little face-to-face relationship building still appeals to basic human social needs.

While it might seem counterintuitive, virtual teams and a vibrant company culture are not mutually exclusive. While many leaders still struggle to balance the demands of both in today’s workforces, the strategies we’ve discussed above show that it’s well within a strong leader’s capabilities to do so.

Check out my related post: What are the tips for better virtual meetings?

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