We are aware of the fact that coronavirus caused pandemic has forced us to remain in our home. As a result, most of us are relying on work from home to continue with the company assignments. But this is not the first time people are working using remote access networks. There are already a few firms which constituted most of their workforce, working across different corners of the world.
Albeit easy it may seem, these virtual teams still face several challenges. This not only affects their productivity but also does not allow companies to harness their potential to its full extent. Not only that, being geographically diverse hampers intra-organization relations and causes poor communication. This happens because of a lack of planning and preparation. Thus it is a must we build a strategy that can nip these issues in bud before virtual teams and working from home become a regular scene in the coming years.
Build a robust team: At the end of the day, these people still work to contribute and steer your company to new heights. So the team members should comprise uniquely skilled, motivated, engaged, and committed people. Also make them work together physically at a place (it need not be office HQ), before assigning remote tasks to cut the differences that arise from being geographically distant, having varied operational styles and cultural norms. When working side-by-side they will get to know each other and work habits too. This will boost levels of trust, innovation, satisfaction and performance among themselves.
Multiplicity of Communication: Although it is evident to use tools that foster high speed and hassle-free connectivity it is equally fruitful to invest in all types of communication like chat, project management software, collaboration, and prototyping, scheduling and conferencing, etc. In case of budgetary issues choose the best and secure options. This will not only reduce monotony but it will encourage a feeling of togetherness. Scheduling tools can send automated alerts and reminders for deadlines, provide a concise overview of what tasks needs to be done, by who, and when. Companies must opt systems that don’t need access codes and agree to interact on a common language. Each person has a different level of openness and comfort zones. As a result, it is best to determine the preferred communication method for each of your virtual team members. Also, it will be beneficial if working hours overlap as it will ensure most of the teams are online at the same time.
Recharge the work-relations: It is common to feel isolated when working from physically and regionally distinct places. Scheduling regular check-ins with the teams can prevent this burn-out. Ask them to prefer for real-time conversation between two remote participants. Team leaders and company authorities must convey congratulations when significant milestones are achieved. Transparent and common break time can lead to more increase in performance. As coordination among teams can prove challenging. Hence during official meeting hours, encourage open dialogue, questions, track commitments and highlight the details of task design and the processes that will be used to complete them besides aligning the team with goals and expectations.
Cultivate Shared Leadership Hierarchy: It is imperative to include all available minds. Not everyone has the same work pace. So it is better to divide responsibilities based on the capabilities and resources required to accomplish them. Having an informal group check-in each day keeps the team on the same page, promotes team-building exercises and holds everyone accountable for their daily tasks and ongoing projects. This will gauge better outcomes for the organization.
Though one has to be careful by checking for a person who might be striving post business hours to meet deadlines. The signs include erratic or moody behavior, emails sent at odd times, and a drop in work quality. These over-exhausted players should be advised to take a time-out as such habits can degrade their and eventually company’s performance.
Leaders need to set up a one-to-one time with the teams at regular periods. This takes the stress out of a sudden request for a meeting and gives employees a designated time to talk about their progress or any issues they might be having at work.