Challenges of Managing Virtual Teams
The single biggest challenge that virtual teams face is communication. Without the usual face-to-face daily exchanges between team members, you and your team members must make extra effort to communicate effectively.
For example, there are no chats by the water cooler, and it’s not so easy to socialize outside office hours. So you need to make up for the loss of informal communications, make good use of communication technology.
Encourage your people to stay in touch and get to know one another better. Schedule daily or weekly remote get-togethers, using the apps and channels we mentioned above. You can also keep your people engaged and “in the loop” by experimenting with one or more of the following:
Above all, though, your communications infrastructure must work smoothly, and people must be happy using it without being hampered by inconvenience and with little thought for cost.
5 Challenges of Managing Virtual Teams and How to Overcome Them
The way we keep in touch with friends, family, colleagues, and even health professionals is changing. Now, it’s dominated by video conferencing, virtual phone services, and digital communication tools.
1. Communication among remote teams
Teams are often dispersed around a country or the globe, and it’s unlikely that you’ll have many (if any) opportunities to meet face to face with your team. In-person meetings can be a drag for many reasons, but without them, our work environment interactions are greatly reduced. So what effects does poor communication have on team morale and productivity?
The main reasons for poor communication among remote teams are time zone discrepancies, cultural differences, and a lack of visual cues and gestures. Despite these difficulties, virtual teams must remain connected through established methods of communication.
There are plenty of tools on the market to make connecting and collaborating with your team a breeze. When it comes to planning your virtual office, you’ll need to incorporate tools for:
AI tools can make a huge difference in your “virtual office”. AI tools yield undeniable results and can improve customer service, data analysis, and reporting, enhance cybersecurity, and automate various time-consuming processes.
2. Remote project and task management
For example, imagine you’re managing development team and you’re developing exciting new software that could see huge results for your business. Your remote team might be equipped with all the latest tech tools they need, but if they’re not staying on top of their assigned tasks it will all unravel pretty quickly. This results in bad customer experience, and snide reviews and angry phone calls are the last things you need right now.
Luckily, there’s an array of project management tools out there to make this a breeze. Examples include Asana, Jira, Wrike, and more. This kind of tool allows you to organize projects and collaborate with a remote team.
Comprehensive project management tools allow you to assign tasks to individual team members, split them into subtasks, and set priorities. This ensures tasks are completed on time, and there’s no confusion about who should be doing what.
3. Nurturing remote team relationships
Building team relationships when you’re working remotely isn’t the easiest task. You can’t just pop down to the pub for after-work drinks, or watch everyone embarrass themselves at the annual holiday party. So, you’re going to have to get creative.
A good idea is to hold weekly/biweekly/monthly virtual get-togethers, where you don’t have to talk about work. During meetings, you can get people warmed up with ice breakers and energizers to make virtual meetings a little less awkward. You can also create a dedicated channel on your chat tool for general and informal chats — a virtual water cooler of sorts.
Push to hold virtual hangouts and other online activities to create team bonds. There, your remote team can bond, have a few drinks, and get to know one another outside of work (think: summit meeting, convention, or dress-up party).
If your organization usually holds workshops throughout the year, you can take these online by planning a virtual retreat that includes virtual meetings, talks, and games to enable your team to get to know each other and build relationships.
4. Lack of focus and productivity
You can work from the comfort of your own home and roll out of bed and into the office! No more valuable hours wasted on public transport, no awkward encounters by the coffee machine, and no uncomfortable office wear! Just pajamas, the couch, and a fridge full of snacks.
Teach your team good independent work skills. Reinforce work targets and ensure that goals and expectations are communicated. You’re not in the office anymore, but standards must remain the same.
If you’re an expert at working independently, you can share some tips with your team to set them on the right path. Productivity tools like noise cancellation software, timers, and website blockers are great ways to increase focus and stay on track. Implementing these tools and setting guidelines for how to use them can be a great asset to your team’s remote work playbook.
Holding people accountable is a lot more difficult when they’re not right in front of you. How do you know if your team is working, or if they’re getting distracted by social media or other websites?
Tips on managing remote teams
Tech is great, but it can only do so much. The foundation of any successful remote team management is a strong mentality and a real team spirit. Are you creating a space that allows for virtual team building, one that creates a company-wide sense of unity regardless of time zone or workplace?
It may be a very obvious tip, but you won’t get far as a team if you don’t genuinely want to be one. Every correspondence, every update, every event that affects your in-house team, should be shared with your remote workers. This is vital for instilling a sense of virtual teamwork: no man or woman is an island, even if he or she is sitting solo in a home office.
Effective communication comes from knowing that both sides are equally invested. Explore how to communicate with a remote team and let your virtual workers know they have a voice and presence in your office. This can be anything from company-wide birthday wishes to making sure they are dialed into the weekly team meetings. Virtual team management shouldn’t put any obstacles in your way. If your in-house team can grab someone, be it an intern or co-founder, for a quick one-on-one, make sure your virtual team can, too. Video calls and syncs don’t have to be scheduled days in advance or made overly important. The main point of them is so everyone knows their team is connected, approachable and ready to help.
Don’t make your virtual workers a commodity
It’s easy to feel like remote workers are to be utilized as and when needed, but this is an attitude that you must nip in the bud. Make sure team bonding is always happening. Build a meaningful relationship with all your team members so your virtual workers have just as strong a rapport with each other as those working in the same physical space. Working with your virtual workers should never be viewed as a task that requires extra effort.
Don’t let your virtual team management fall to one point of contact: remote employees should be just as integrated into your workforce as anyone else. Ultimately, managing remote teams shouldn’t make any difference to your actual values and the efforts you make to connect as one workforce. They should only add to it—and when you empower them, they will.
Managing Virtual Teams
Six Skills You Need for Leading Virtual Teams
A virtual team is a group of people that work together on common goals and projects but do not sit together, and so communicate electronically rather than face-to-face – although they may occasionally meet in person.
Virtual team working is notoriously challenging and it is often quoted that 50% of virtual teams fail to meet their objectives – and even when virtual teams do meet their objectives they very often don’t want to work together again.
You might assume that if you have led teams before you will be able to manage a virtual team without any problem but it takes a highly skilled team leader to be able to build, manage and maintain a successful virtual team. You will need all those skills you developed when managing face-to-face teams – and a whole lot more.
The absence of those informal opportunities to collaborate or those water cooler moments where colleagues share a joke and build rapport means that it is much harder to build trust and create a sense of common purpose and engagement in virtual teams. The virtual manager needs to dedicate more time, energy and resources to establishing good relationships throughout the team, not only between themselves and the rest of the team but also between colleagues.
Recruiting for a Virtual Team
Recruiting and managing virtual teams is another challenge. It is not a given fact that a good team member in the conventional sense will perform equally well in a virtual environment. Your team members must be self-motivated, results-oriented and able to work independently. And of course, each team member must also be able to communicate effectively with the team lead and his or her team colleagues.
To manage a virtual team effectively, you must learn the strengths and weaknesses of each team member. And that’s all the harder without daily, face-to-face opportunities to casually monitor and mentor each person.
Working remotely, you must give each team member the guidance and support they need and also build trust in each person’s abilities and reliability. It’s important to create the virtual equivalent of an “open door policy”. Make sure team members know how to get what they need from you and encourage open and frequent communications.
Top 16 Tools For Managing Virtual Teams
The first requirement of a project manager is to find a way to plan, execute, and control all aspects of the project, onsite or offsite. This is exactly what a project management tool is designed to do. It helps project managers and teams to ensure that each project/task is completed on time with optimal time and cost management.
ProofHub is an advanced PM tool for any business or teams who have projects to manage and ideas to collaborate on. It’s an all-in-one solution providing every feature and functionality that is needed to plan, schedule, track, report, and deliver a project. The product comes with a 30-day free trial so that managers and teams can get familiar with its basics and benefits before they go for a paid subscription.
Connecteam is an all-in-one employee management app with robust and effective communication tools for both businesses and teams — whether you’re in the office, out in the field, or working from home. In a single app, you have access to live group chat, one-on-one people-centric chat, social posts, real-time updates, customizable surveys, and much more. Pricing starts at just $29/month for up to 200 users or you can trial Connecteam with its free for life plan.
These are basically software and online services that allow project managers to ensure a clear line of communication between people so that they can work together as a team, regardless of their actual physical location.
The idea behind using a video conferencing tool is to explore opportunities for one-on-one interactions between virtual teams — regardless of the fact that they are miles away from each other.
Many video chat and messaging apps have entered the market but the most popular one is still Skype. Whether your team is remote or sitting in the same office space, Skype allows you to communicate via audio/video and even share screens in the easiest and the most inexpensive way possible.
The human resource management tools are used in businesses to automate their resource management. This helps them to eliminate repetitive tasks performed by the HR team/department and improve employees’ productivity.
CuteHR is a human resource management tool designed to manage and monitor both in house and remote teams. It is a complete package for businesses to manage projects, employees and clients while tracking work hours, projects, meeting deadlines or hiring talents via ATS. It offers live reporting, GPS tracking to collaborate effectively with remote employees. With smart survey tools that are included in Cutehr’s package, maintaining a happy harmony in workplaces becomes handy. All this is inline with invoices and payroll features which makes the employer or HR’s work hassle free
Conceptboard’s infinite canvas allows distributed teams to centralize projects and collaborate in real-time across locations. Import content, gather feedback, share files and ideas all from one powerful visual tool.
Conceptboard is a collaborative online whiteboard that provides a shared virtual workspace for distributed teams. If you’ve spent hours of your workday trying to collaborate over endless email threads, then Conceptboard is the app for you. It’s your one-stop solution to centralize projects, communication and artifacts.
Hiver’s email collaboration platform helps teams collaborate seamlessly within Gmail without switching tabs/apps. This ensures no important emails are missed, and teammates don’t have to use forwards and CCs to collaborate.
Hiver is a shared inbox solution for teams. Hiver transforms Gmail into a collaboration platform by enabling teams to easily manage shared email accounts like [email protected], [email protected] It eliminates the need for function-specific customer communication solutions like a helpdesk — by helping teams manage all group email communication right within Gmail. Hiver starts for as low as $7 per user per month. All plans come with a free 14-day trial.
Productivity tools help you get focused faster and stay productive for longer so that you can get your best work done, everyday. You can plan your day around the tasks that matter most. Break your day into focused sessions of work and block all those distracting websites, apps and notifications that halt your flow.