Virtual teams spread across continents are a fact of life for many companies, especially multinationals. According to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, two-thirds of multinationals and half of all companies work with virtual teams working from home.
This is done to offer flexibility to employees, boost overall productivity and reduce travel time and costs.
Virtual teams prove to be very effective in areas such as project planning, goal setting and brainstorming. However, huge gaps could develop in areas such as building trust, maintaining morale, managing conflict and performance metrics monitoring.
Working in different time zones and cultural differences can make it difficult to collaborate.
Even though such challenges exist, it does not imply that virtual teams cannot have a good working relationship. There are easy ways to boost productivity and the working dynamics of virtual teams.
Here are some tips on how to boost relationships among virtual teams across geographical regions:
1. Regular Feedback:It is important for companies to foster openness with employees. There are several survey maker software that provide survey templates to cover multiple topics. Send these out to get employee feedback. As a manager, if you get insights into areas of difficulty that remote team members face, you can address them, build good relationships and have a strong virtual team.
2. Visual Interaction:It is a good idea to have employees connect over Skype or video conferencing instead of just exchanging emails all the time. Since people are social and like to meet in person, the next best thing is to use technology to see a team member virtually.
3. Accountability:Managers can use the following methods to improve accountability among virtual teams:
● Metrics that focus on results.
● Involving employees in project planning so that deadlines are understood and maintained.
● Giving employees autonomy to organize their work so that they deliver on time.
● Schedule checks on milestones and assess progress along with offering feedback whenever necessary.
● Use survey software to create a checklist to pinpoint at any problem areas.
● Share a calendar and action plan with the team to keep everyone updated on the status of a project.
4. Motivation: A virtual team member could face different challenges as he/she is working at home. Isolation is a big issue, so managers and teammates can use the following methods to keep their colleagues motivated:
1. Make time for team building exercises: Try meeting your virtual team members periodically. It is vital that the human element remains even though your team members work from their home.
2. Offer training and development opportunities: Employees are more likely to stay motivated when the feel continuous growth in their skills. Your remote employees have the flexibility to work in their own time, offer them similar flexibility with training programs to keep them motivated.
5. Recognising Milestones:Give your employees a boost by recognising their good work. It is important for them to know that they are appreciated as people first. Become a supportive employer and boost employee productivity and morale by recognising personal milestones.
6. Job Satisfaction:This is an area in which employers can make a big difference in retaining or losing good employees. There are a lot of survey tools which you can use to figure out employee needs. It is easy enough to find out about employee needs face to face but with virtual employees, an extra effort must be made to ensure they feel included and cared for.
Virtual teams are now part of the business landscape and here to stay. Though it was an option at a point in time, it is now the cost of doing business to keep up with global trends and the need to have specialists on staff.
There have been instances when a virtual team has failed to deliver. In such cases, productivity has taken a hit and it affects a business’s ability to be competitive. Avoiding such problems takes some work and there are plenty of tools to choose from. Organisations can use available technology to ensure that their virtual teams deliver at the same pace.
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