Things aren’t the way they used to be. The days of needing to go into an office are over.
Why spend the money on office space when you can make a digital team?
The addition of remote workers isn’t expected to die down anytime soon. Managers said that they expect 38% of their full-time workforce to be remotely employed in the next decade.
But this flexibility comes with challenges. You need to come up with a virtual team management plan to keep your team on track.
Keep reading to learn seven things you can do to manage your online workforce.
1. Build Systems
You aren’t working side by side with your team, so you can’t walk down the hall to get answers to any questions.
You need systems in place, so everyone knows what to do.
If you don’t have a standardized procedure defined for a task, then people are going to handle it in different ways. Your systems should spell out how each member of your staff should perform their job.
The last thing you want is for two people to develop their own policies that don’t work well together with others.
When you set standards, everyone knows what to do. Rules lead to fewer questions and a more efficient virtual team.
You can follow VMs best practices to set up the most efficient procedures.
2. Hold Regular Meetings
If you have multiple projects going on, you need to keep track of the progress of each one.
Make sure you schedule your meetings regularly so your team can keep you updated on what they’re doing. Your team members can also use this time to ask questions and bring new ideas for discussion.
Being a remote worker can be unpredictable, so meetings also serve as something to bring routine to an uncertain schedule.
You can also make use of the latest video conferencing technology to get face time in to help things feel more personal.
3. Use Online Collaboration Tools
The internet hasn’t only made it possible for people to work remotely, but has also created better collaboration tools.
The first on your list is project management. These tools will give you a workspace to set up all your projects for your team to see.
You can assign tasks, milestones, and communicate project details through your software.
You can also make use of document collaboration tools like Google Docs. This software will allow you to share documents with your team.
You can edit them online, so everyone always has the latest information.
Yoru document suite will also have a revision history. This feature will let you revert to old file versions in case someone makes a mistake.
4. Hire the Correct People
Remote work sounds like a dream, but it isn’t for everyone.
The flexibility of working from home also comes with a few costs. If you are the type of person that needs to work with people in person, you could struggle to be on your own all day.
A remote worker also needs to have discipline. You have to trust your employees not to waste time when they should be working.
A lack of structure can cause some people to slack off and not get their work done.
You can put systems in place to do some amount of tracking, but you can’t track all the people all the time.
5. Keep Work Hours That Overlap
A significant drawback of having a distributed team is having people that work in different timezones.
Try to make sure your schedule is set up to overlap with as many schedules as possible.
It may not be feasible if you have team members that live in other countries, but try to be available for as many members of your team as possible.
If you can’t keep regular hours for your overseas team, then try to take time weekly to be available for them.
Being available might mean working irregular hours. But taking the time to be available will help your team feel like they aren’t on their own.
6. Create a Communication Culture
When you aren’t working side by side with someone, it can be hard to know if it’s okay to bother them with a question. Make sure you create a culture where asking questions is encouraged.
Establishing open communication also helps with any cultural issues that come up. You will be working with people from many different backgrounds, so some people may have different expectations about how to work together.
When you can get everyone together and talk about issues, it can help create a more positive environment. This culture leads to a more productive and happy team.
7. Create a Social Environment
It can be lonely sitting at home all day and not interacting with other people.
You do need time alone to get work done. But when you are in an office, you can walk down the hall to have a chat with someone.
Try to set something like this up for your team.
A service like Slack provides chat rooms for your team. You can create channels for projects or random chit-chat. Encourage your workers to talk through the day. It will help them feel less isolated.
If you want to go the extra mile, try to plan company outings. Many companies do this with on-site staff. These occasions make even more sense with a virtual one.
Meeting in person will let your team get to know each other in real life and can lead to better working relationships.
Make Sure You Plan for Virtual Team Management
Managing a team in the office is hard enough. When you’re going down the virtual route, you add in a whole new level of complexity.
Make sure you use these tips for virtual team management to come up with a plan for success.
Before you start with your remote team, you need to come up with training and plans, so they know what to do. Head to our business section for advice on developing your team’s strategy.