As most of the world has shifted to work from home amid the Coronavirus crisis, we need to find collaborative methods to ease the flow of communication with remote teams. There are several challenges that virtual teams are facing to enhance productivity while staying connected.
As much of a blessing as it seems, work from home has some downsides as well. Two most important factors to consider for home-based working are:
Firstly, it is a hassle to properly communicate with your peers while working remotely. People often misunderstand each other when they are not talking face to face, moreover, working around individual work schedules is also an issue.
Technology is another major hurdle to effective work teams; some employees may not have a safe and fast internet connection, others may not have the right equipment, and so on.
However, organizations can take a few steps that can help them build a strong team and collaborate with them seamlessly while staying at home:
1. Track Work Progress
Accountability is key to higher productivity in online virtual teams. An online team will grow stronger if everyone knows that all team members are working equally hard. It’s best to make a system in which working hours are logged in, just like in an office.
Employees should report their checking in and checking out times every day. Additionally, team leads should assign tasks to each member at the beginning of each day and then ask them to report about work status when checking out.
Monitoring is essential to keep the team’s flow streamlined. You can track your team’s activity using several available tools and their breaks as well to monitor the right number of working hours. Too often, remote employees tend to get distracted from their work, accountability is essential to keep them focused and productive.
- Using online tools to monitor working hours
- Assigning tasks on an everyday basis
- Analyzing the output relative to the tasks
2. Keep The Team Energized
It is essential to understand that it is difficult for the team to stay motivated while working from home. The office environment provides colleagues an opportunity to engage and interact, which can ease work stress.
However, it is difficult to maintain those connections with virtual teams, so you must try to provide virtual social spaces to your employees to relieve their stress.
- Encourage video conferencing for communication other than work
- Participate in online gaming and other challenges with co-workers
- Register in online courses together
- Have a casual catch-up session
- Share photos of lunch or a joke every day
3. Encourage Video Conferencing
It is essential to communicate with virtual teams using video conferencing for better and clear communication. You can set your schedule of video conferencing, for example, every week or once every two weeks, where teams can talk to each other, brainstorm ideas, and catch-up on progress.
Video conferencing is a better platform to get your message across as compared to textual mediums.
- Video conferencing can help you understand better
- Better connection with team members
- Natural interactions through body language/ gestures
- Can encourage employees to dress up and get ready for conference
4. Choosing The Right Technology
One of the most crucial factors for virtual team collaboration is the selection of the right tools and technology. If the teams are not in-sync with other team members because of the lack of a suitable platform, your productivity will suffer.
There are several tools present online that can help you solve these problems. While selecting a telework platform for virtual teams, you must consider the following factor:
- The tool must not be too complex for the team to understand
- Should enable transparency
- Shouldn’t disturb other employees, for example, separate chat rooms
- Should be easily accessible
- The progress of work must be indicated while teams assigned should also be shown
Workflow automation allows the teams to focus on essential tasks and automate the minor, repetitive tasks. Automation can help virtual teams to be productive and improve their communication. Several tools are present online that can help you automate your emails, so you don’t have to manually send them.
These automation tools can help you do your work at an assigned time and date so you can focus on other things. Some of the advantages of workflow automation are:
- Workflow automation saves a lot of time
- Can make your tasks aligned and organized
- It acts like a personal assistant
- You can focus on important things while your tasks are automatically being completed
6. Collaboration Tools
You must ensure easy and smooth collaboration with your virtual teams. The peers should be aware of where they have to report and how do they submit the work done. Several platforms provide easy and accessible file sharing. These are:
- Google Docs provides an easy and seamless document sharing where people can easily edit and modify documents online.
- Slack is a medium that allows you to communicate with different pears in different chat rooms. You can set up notifications and reminders, which makes it easier for remote teams to collaborate.
- WebExMeeting Centre is easy to use collaborative tool through which teams can connect easily without any hassle of a specific gadget. Video conferencing allows easy communication for teams that are working remotely.
Presentations also play a critical role in remote team collaborations. Tools like visually engaging PowerPoint templates can be of great help to design highly impactful remote presentations and collaborate more effectively with your team.
7. Clear Remote Guidelines
You must have a straightforward and well-communicated company policy regarding remote work. Your regulations and policies can guide the employees about what is expected of them and how to deliver it. You can define your own rules based on the nature of the work.
Some common remote work guidelines highlight the following:
- Working hours
- Chain of reporting
- Leaves policy
- Frequency of meetings
The policy and rules must be communicated to the virtual teams, so they are aware of the policies and procedures. Following proper guidelines can encourage cohesiveness. We talked to the HR manager at a professional cleaning business, Carpet Cleaning Dartford, about how they managed a smooth transition to remote work.
He stated that they made clear rules regarding telework from the start, which helped their employees assimilate to the new work environment quickly. He recommended other businesses to do the same and avoid unproductivity caused by misunderstandings and ambiguity.
8. Hire the Right Employees
While structuring a remote team, you must hire the right employee. Not all people can perform at their best while remotely working, which is why the employer or team leader must be careful while assigning work to remote employees.
While forming a virtual team, ask the team members:
- Have they ever worked from home before?
- Do they have a separate place to concentrate?
- Are there any kids at home?
- Would they be available for meetings/video conferencing frequently?
- Their preference for remote work or in-office work.