Last year, as Covid quickly spread across the globe, getting work done remotely became a necessity for most businesses. In 2021, virtual meetings and flexible work options continue to evolve as part of the “new normal” and most companies today are either maintaining or boosting their remote workforce capabilities. This article outlines virtual team best practices for those business leaders looking to maximize the performance of their remote workers.
Virtual teams are a group of individuals who interact remotely to complete interdependent tasks and achieve common goals. According to a study on virtual teams, 84% of respondents believe meeting remotely is more difficult than in person, and another study found that 60% of companies do not provide the training needed for virtual teams to excel. With the right plan, however, studies have proven that remote teams can significantly outperform their collocated counterparts.
Advantages of remote teams include being able to pull from a larger pool of diverse talent – which can enhance decision making – and lower overhead costs, while benefits remote team members enjoy, include reduced commuting time, more freedom, and increased flexibility.
Challenges virtual teams face, on the other hand, involve things like coordination, communications, trust, and difficulty finding common ground. Consequentially, certain systems, procedures, and controls must be established to ensure the success of virtual teams. To improve the performance of your remote workforce, consider these eight – (8) ideas:
- Select supportive leaders and team members, who are committed and possess good leadership, communications, problem solving, and people skills;
- Create a shared vision, schedule, structured processes, and task, goal & role clarity, while also providing team leaders and members with the needed training;
- Choose safe collaboration and project management software;
- Communicate regularly through multiple channels, including physical & on-line company bulletin boards and newsletters;
- Introduce exercises that strengthen social interaction, cohesion, connection, and trust, like holding occasional face-to-face meetings;
- Meet consistently on-line, but do not forget periodic one-on-one interactions;
- Track team progress, hold employees accountable, provide constructive feedback, reward top performers, and celebrate team successes; and, last, but not least …
- Be conscious of the work-life balance of each individual team member.
An Aon Hewitt study found that virtual work productivity tends to increase employee productivity between 10% and 43% depending on the industry. The Society for Human Resource Management, moreover, found a moderate to strong impact on employee retention from offering employees flexible work options. So, virtual work options can boost employee productivity and help retain valuable employees, but they require the right systems, procedures, and controls, and can be a delicate balancing act.