What is a virtual team?
A virtual team is a group of people, typically who are part of a workforce, who work together from different locations. These teams are often geographically dispersed, meaning that they rely on the use of technology in order to stay connected.
The benefits of working remotely
The popularity of remote working is increasing, which can be put down to the benefits that these workers are experiencing. In a 2014 survey, the top benefits of telecommuting listed by remote workers were better work-life balance (74%), savings in travel costs (69%) and green benefits (47%) to name just a few.
Whilst working remotely has its benefits, it’s not without challenges. If you’re in charge of a virtual team, take a look at five best practices (highlighted in this infographic) to consider implementing in order to improve your efficiency.
1. Establish clear team goals
When you’re managing a virtual team, it can be hard to know that everyone understands their roles. In order to keep a remote team aligned, you should establish clear goals and delegate responsibilities. The use of cloud software, for tracking team progress, can also encourage transparency within your virtual team.
2. Be available as much as possible
Communication goes both ways. Whether that means you regularly check in with team members through your cloud collaboration software, or that you respond to emails in a reasonable and timely manner; you will boost morale and productivity amongst your team as a result, even if they’re located miles away from each other.
3. Schedule regular meetings
Frequent meetings will build a routine that may be lacking within your virtual team. When working remotely, you are not confined to working the traditional 9-5 hours; and so by setting up regular meeting times, whether that’s virtually or physically, you can improve team efficiency.
4. Balance time zone differences
You should be mindful that your geographically located team will work in different time zones. For instance, when planning meetings – if you would like to organise a video call for 11 am where you are, time zone differences mean that it could still only be 6 am for your colleague elsewhere. This also goes with overlapping your work times, meaning that you work at the same time as the rest of your virtual team (which also increases your availability).
5. Collaborate and communicate
Remote work can easily become isolating if team members do not keep up regular communication, which can be counter-productive. There are cloud collaboration tools that are designed to make it easier for virtual teams to stay connected, with features ranging from document approvals to discussions forums, to group calendars and more.