With the rise of the remote workforce, successful management of virtual teams has become a crucial skill. Managers who don’t understand how to motivate and oversee a group of distant employees won't be able to help those in the increasingly dispersed world of work. So let’s take a look at a few ways you can support and manage your virtual teams.
Facilitate In-Person Meetings
Virtual teams can, over time, form very real and meaningful bonds via video conferencing. But there is still nothing quite like an in-person gathering. It’s like pressing the fast-forward button on a working relationship. So try to get as much of your team together as possible for regular in-person meet-ups. If your remote employees all live in the same city, a monthly group coffee date would be appropriate. If your mobile workers live hundreds of miles apart, you might want to schedule an annual weekend retreat for rest, relaxation and commiseration.
Balance Flexibility And Consistency
One of the huge perks of remote work is that it allows employees to be a little bit more flexible with their work hours. However, if everyone is working whenever they want to, it will become increasingly difficult to schedule meetings and keep everyone on the same page when a project is coming down to the wire. It will take some give and take with your various remote employees, but establish a schedule that allows for flexibility while ensuring there will be some overlap during which everyone is logged on at the same time.
Respect Time Zones
If you are managing a far-flung team with members around the world, scheduling meetings will get tricky. Someone will inevitably be waking up at an unholy hour to log in to a virtual meeting. Make sure to evenly distribute the inconvenience by mixing it up with your scheduling. If this week’s meeting was scheduled at 3am John’s time, schedule next week’s meeting for 10am John’s time. Don’t make John wake up at 3am every week. John will not be happy. John will be sleepy and grumpy.
It’s not enough to assemble a team of bright people and equip them with the latest and greatest in collaboration solutions. You need to remain visible and approachable as a manager. Be as present in your mobile employees’ work lives as you are in the day-to-day ups and downs of your on-site teams. No one wants to feel like they are working for a ghost. Stay engaged and let your mobile employees know you care. They might be comfortable working from home and getting a little lonely once in a while, but they still need to know someone is thinking about them.
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