Building an Effective Virtual Team in 7 Steps
By Deyan Kassev
August 05, 2021
In today’s day and age, more and more teams around the world are taking advantage of emerging technologies and transitioning to a virtual work environment. While working remotely comes with many benefits, it can also be difficult, particularly for groups who have never had the opportunity to meet in person. A few simple steps can help mitigate the challenges of online collaboration and establish a successful virtual team dynamic.
While email and instant messaging are great for sending files, posting updates, and answering brief questions, it is very easy to lose details and misconstrue meaning when your team relies on asynchronous communication. More robust discussions require face-to-face meetings over video-conferencing platforms.
Depending on your virtual team’s unique needs, schedule recurring video calls to discuss progress, address outstanding issues, and plan future deliverables. Before you meet, create a detailed agenda to keep your team on task and use your limited time efficiently. Record the call for members who could not attend and take notes on important decisions for later reference.
2. Get to know your virtual team:
Don’t spend every video conference doing work. Instead, reserve some time for team bonding experiences. Celebrate accomplishments, organize icebreakers, and play games. If you feel comfortable, divide into random breakout rooms and have personal conversations with different members of your team. Such events require minimal planning yet can have an invaluable impact on team performance. More specifically, they build strong relationships, encourage communication, and promote collaboration.
3. Stay Organized:
With the many distractions of the home environment, it is easier than ever to get sidetracked. To help your teammates manage their many responsibilities while simultaneously keeping them accountable for their work, create a detailed task list. For smaller teams, a simple spreadsheet can suffice. There are numerous task management platforms available on the internet for those in search of a more advanced option, such as Clickup, Asana, and Monday.com. Used by many leading companies worldwide, these integrated solutions allow users to intuitively track progress, delegate work, set deadlines, and adjust schedules. By consolidating information and streamlining tasks, they simplify logistics and improve productivity.
To empower your team, create a central shared repository. Carefully organize research, presentations, and working documents to streamline efforts and save valuable time. Develop a set of templates and encourage team members to build on previous work rather than starting from scratch.
4. Plan ahead:
While it is important to dream big and push your boundaries, remain aware of your team’s internal and external constraints. Make sure your schedules and deadlines are well-thought-out and realistic. Aggressive, unattainable goals will only strain your resources and subject your team members to unnecessary stress.
Even the most experienced teams inevitably encounter challenges on the difficult road to success. In order to overcome these obstacles and excel in a rigorous, fast-paced environment, you must be prepared for the worst-case scenarios. Ensure multiple people possess the skills and knowledge to complete each task, so someone can always step in as a backup should the need arise. Maintain an issues log to identify problems early on and take appropriate action. If you have strict deadlines, build a generous buffer into your schedule. At best, you will finish early and have ample time to start your next task. At worst, you will have the breathing room to finish on time.
5. Divide and Conquer:
Every individual has a unique skillset (If you want to learn more see the top 4 entrepreneurial types here). You must learn to effectively leverage these complementary talents in achieving your team’s audacious goals. To encourage shared ownership and improve efficiency, designate functional leaders to oversee the different aspects of your team’s project. When assigning roles and responsibilities, remember that individuals will be more enthusiastic and generate higher-quality work if their tasks align with their passions.
6. Encourage shared leadership:
Without the influence of a shared workspace, virtual teammates often lose interest and motivation. Over time, they begin to prioritize other tasks over their commitment to the team, adversely impacting the quality of their work. To keep members engaged, find ways to actively involve them as leaders in the team. Give them control over specific initiatives or have them lead meetings. Apart from distributing the shared workload more equally, such responsibilities make team members feel personally invested in the project’s success, fostering hard work and dedication.
Revolutionary ideas cannot be created in isolation. Instead, they must be born organically through thoughtful discussions and meaningful collaboration. It is the responsibility of each team member to contribute to a culture that promotes creativity and innovation. Leveraging online tools, establish virtual whiteboards where teammates can seamlessly interact by posting ideas and sharing inspirational messages. Organize regular sessions where members can work “side-by-side,” sharing advice and building on one another’s thoughts.
Take these ideas, adapt them to your unique needs, and implement them in your virtual team dynamic. Although they may not address every challenge, they will help you create a productive, collaborative, and efficient environment, putting you one step closer to your final goals.
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