How To Master Managing Virtual Teams Effectively

Have you always managed a virtual business? Or do you manage a team at a company that eventually transitioned to fully remote working?

Whatever the case may be, one thing is for sure: managing virtual teams is very different from leading team members in an in-office environment. It’s better than losing the ability to go to your team members’ bedrooms every day to say “hello” and ask them out for lunch.

Are you wondering how you can manage your virtual team to the best of your ability? Do you want to ensure that your virtual team members feel supported and can maximize their ability to collaborate?

Well, no need to start Google! In my years of experience managing a completely remote team for the online language school Live Lingua, I have discovered the tried-and-true tips below to effectively manage virtual team members.

5 Tips for Managing Virtual Teams

From surefire ways to create a positive remote work culture to optimizing workflow, try these tips to master how to effectively manage your virtual team.

1. Create a Positive Remote Work Culture with “Virtual Water Coolers”

We all know how important the ole water cooler is to the office work environment. The water cooler is where employees meet throughout the day and tell each other stories, laugh about business happenings, plan after-work events, and bond. Water coolers play an important role in creating a positive work environment where colleagues feel connected.

That said, the “virtual water cooler” acts like a physical water cooler — it is an internal communication channel that allows remote workers to connect and talk about topics other than work. job.

For example, it could be a designated #FUN Slack channel dedicated to conversations about hobbies outside of work. Or, it could be an online forum or a private Facebook group where only members of your group talk about interests.

You might think that a virtual water cooler will only distract your team members from ongoing projects and hinder their productivity and results.

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However, we found that implementing these internal communication channels helped create a positive work culture in our virtual business, boosting employee morale and motivation.

Why? Well, that’s because these virtual water coolers gave our team members a chance to have non-work related discussions. This has helped them understand each other better and bond more (which can sometimes be difficult to do in a completely remote business environment).

Ultimately, making these connections has helped our team members become supportive and motivating friends during challenging times. In addition, it has helped improve communication and collaboration throughout our company.

Tips for your Virtual Water Cooler

If you want your business’ virtual water cooler to be successful, there are a few rules to follow. First, ask a fun question in the virtual water cooler every morning to start a conversation.

For example, ask things like “Where do you hope to travel next and why?” This is a great way to help your employees get to know each other better.

Also, don’t force anyone to join the virtual water cooler, as that will only cause stress. If one of your employees doesn’t share any of the day’s insights, don’t ask them to contribute. They may just be busy with projects and can respond when they have time.

If people feel compelled to contribute their thoughts every day, it can lower their overall morale.

Finally, try to always acknowledge what others say in the virtual water cooler — no one wants to feel ignored. Social recognition can be the key to uplifting morale.

According to Psych Central, “Social recognition is essential to psychological safety and business success. It lets people know they are noticed and appreciated, increasing productivity and strengthening relationships at work.”

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2. Maximize Productivity with an “Open Communication” Timeframe

A major challenge in a virtual work environment is that team members may not know if their colleagues are busy working on important projects and cannot be distracted.

Sometimes, they might email their busy colleagues or bomb them with Slack messages, which distracts them and distracts from the work that needs to be done. This can cause a lot of stress for co-workers, who lose focus and reduce productivity and efficiency.

According to the Harvard Business Review, “Organizations that build a culture of minimizing distractions will benefit from the dual benefits of a focused workforce that will make their employees feel less stressed and, ultimately, more fulfilled. .”

Therefore, as a team leader, it is in your best interest to assign certain “open communication” time frames to your team members.

You can let your entire team know that unless there’s an urgent project or crisis that needs to be discussed, they should keep all communications between certain hours, such as mornings from 9: 45 to 10:15 am and later in the day from 2:15 pm to 2:45 pm

During these “open communication” timeframes, your team members will know that they can email co-workers or send messages in the virtual water cooler without distracting anyone. Large projects need to be completed ahead of time.

3. Encourage your team members to practice blocking time

Because they’re working remotely, your team members will have a lot of autonomy and freedom in how they structure each workday. However, this can be a recipe for disaster if any of your team members lack discipline and don’t plan their day well.

So help them be as productive as possible each day by encouraging them to schedule each workday using time blocking.

Let them know that making time for the three most important projects they need to get done each day — and also scheduling miscellaneous things like answering emails — will help them increase their productivity and output each day. day.

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They won’t waste a minute trying to figure out the next task to focus on, as each day will be fully scheduled.

4. Keep your virtual team members accountable and show gratitude

One of the top ways to motivate remote team members is to hold them accountable for work projects and make sure they know you appreciate their hard work. This is because if they know you’re satisfied with their performance, they’ll want to continue to excel.

That said, one surefire way to keep your virtual team members accountable is to set up a weekly video call with each of them to inquire about where things are on projects. , any problems they are facing and the future tasks they will focus on.

You can also hold your virtual team members accountable by using project management software (like Basecamp) and have them all share ongoing updates on what they’ve accomplished. completed or in progress.

Another way to keep your team members accountable is to set designated start and stop times for each of their workdays, then ask them to email you as soon as they log in. job.

Better yet, ask them to provide a quick sketch of the projects they plan to tackle for the day in each of these emails. Your team members will then know they need to hold themselves accountable for completing or making great progress on the projects outlined in each morning email.

Finally, if your virtual team members hold themselves accountable for their projects, show your gratitude for all their hard work!

According to Psychology Today,

“Most powerfully, expressions of gratitude make employees feel valued socially and believe that their actions make a difference in the lives of others, which motivates them to become should be useful, cooperative, and forward-thinking for the organization and those around it. These types of social behaviors in the workplace make the organization more adaptable and attractive to current and future employees, thereby contributing to organizational effectiveness. ”

That said, you can show your gratitude by sending your team members an e-gift card to a popular coffee shop chain or a day spa in your area. surname. This simple yet impactful gesture will lift their spirits and show them you appreciate their efforts, which will motivate them to keep working hard and excelling.

5. Online collaboration tools are key

Project management software will help keep your remote team members accountable and everyone up to date on completed project milestones, follow-up agenda, and people responsible for different tasks.

My favorite project management software is Notion. It offers various functionalities that have kept me going to get started completing all the projects that I constantly have for Live Lingua. Concepts have been key to helping me take my company to new levels of success.

Also, other online collaboration tools that I recommend using are the Google Docs and Google Sheets apps for remote collaboration and editing of important business files on the go.

You can share Google Sheets and Google Docs with members of your virtual team and choose whether they can only view files or have the ability to comment or edit them directly. You can ask them for suggestions for corrections, which you can approve after going through them.

Even better, if you find you don’t like a recent draft of a document, reverting to its old version is easy.

To end it all

If you’re looking to manage your virtual team much more effectively, consider following the tips above. Implement a virtual water cooler to create a positive work culture, designate open communication timeframes to maximize productivity, and encourage your team members to practice scheduling each workday with blocking time.

Help your team members hold themselves accountable for their tasks and then show them your gratitude for their hard work. And don’t forget that online collaboration tools like project management software help streamline workflow.

Following all of these tips will help you manage your virtual team members better than ever.

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Featured photo credit: charlesdeluvio via How To Master Managing Virtual Teams Effectively

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