Last week, we talked about the surge of companies embracing virtual workers. Thanks to all of the communication, project management, and file-sharing apps, collaborating from around the world has never been easier. Many employees are thrilled by this transition, improving company morale and retention rates. It is also benefiting companies by allowing them to be available to customers around-the-clock, and save money on things like rent and utilities.
There are tons of benefits from having a virtual team – but you need to make sure that your company is prepared to make the transition. Obviously, this will include some big changes when it comes to working structure and expectations. And the first change needs to start with your company’s leadership.
Managing remote staff can be difficult. As opposed to monitoring your employees’ physical presence, you will need to focus on monitoring the results of their productivity. There are a number of different tools that can help you do this. The right one for you will depend on the type of work that you do and how your company measures success for both projects and personnel.
The right tools and software you use will be up to you. Beyond that, there are a few best practices that you should keep in mind for managing your virtual teams.
Outline Your Expectations
When your team is working remotely, you will not be able to check-in whenever you please or just pop by their desk. For this reason, it is important that your priorities and expectations are clearly defined. When do you expect them to be online? How soon do you expect a response? What communication channels should they be reachable on? All of this needs to be communicated from the beginning.
Make Yourself Available for Feedback
You will have had a chance to let employees know what you are expecting from them. But if you want the working relationship to be successful, you also need to give your team a little room to find their groove and figure out the best way that you can all work together. If an employee has an issue or sees a better or more efficient way of doing something, make sure that they know that they can – and should – bring this up! Your team members should know the best ways to get in touch with you.
Bring the Virtual Together Every So Often
Sometimes it can be difficult to keep morale or accountability high when everyone is working from their own little corner of the world. While you might not be able to physically get together on a regular basis, make sure that you at least meet face-to-face. This can include something like a video chat so that people have some social connection and freeform discussion.
Not every manager will adapt to remote teams very well. It helps to be more hands-off and trusting of your team. Individuals that feel the need to micromanage may have a difficult time in this sort of setting. However, it will ultimately be up to the supervisor to work with their team to find the best procedures that work for everyone.