Updated: Oct 28, 2021
Many businesses have yet to experience outsourcing or virtual teams... others since the pandemic understand virtual teams all too well and some may still not believe they work. So how do I integrate successfully into your existing virtual and workplace teams? It is all about organisation, communication and the right tools for the trade.
By eliminating face to face work, is it really possible for a virtual team to run effectively? I can tell you from my experience that it certainly is and this is how.
1) Technology, technology, technology
The world has been changing at an increasingly fast past for many years now and the advances in technology have been incredible. This has also made virtual teams that much easier with a vast array of communication tools at your fingertips. I utilise Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Telegram and ClickUp, to provide a few examples, to allow communication to flow between myself and the different teams I am a part of. This allows for working together on joint projects, sharing goals and progress, collaboration, communication and shared problem solving. Clients and our virtual teams seamlessly integrate processes and systems with technologies that suit business operations and needs. This engagement connects some employees in a way they aren't able to with their employees who do not work at one location such as service-based industries.
2) Shared organisational goals
One of the most important goals when first partnering with a business is to learn their organisational vision and mission. Created a shared culture around these principles ensures all teams, whether virtual or in-person, remain connected and on the same path. For those businesses that do not yet have organisational missions, processes or structures, together we create a shared system in project management systems that the whole team can collaborate on.
3) Effective communication
Setting clear communication expectations from the start ensures everyone is on the same page. Areas that may need clarifications along the way are clearly outlined and progress update schedules are generated. The expected and preferred channels for communication are discussed and included in a communication plan. These first steps save a lot of issues with miscommunication down the line and ensure messages are able to be conveyed via the best medium for engagement.
4) The environment
Many virtual teams run into their first problem by not having the right environment available for this kind of virtual work. It is often thought working from home is much easier than from an office or factory, however, home has many distractions and complications such as interruptions, difficultly forming a routine, no designated work space, poor internet or computer equipment. Having studied and worked from home for many years, I have set up the environment needed to enable productivity such as a high grade computer system and internet connection, an office space separated from the rest of the house and office hours and routine.
5) Clear processes, meeting schedules and deadlines
Project Management Software is the big one here. Creating a space for team roles and expectations does not leave anything up to interpretation. Including and building on your business processes inside your PMS also promotes collaboration, engagement and co-creation. This software keeps everyone accountable for their tasks, deadlines and schedules to promote time management, communication and team cohesiveness.