In 2018, offices are out and virtual teams are in. Gone are the days when companies were defined by four walls and some desks. Now, successful businesses are built on teams working together to do great things, whoever they are, and wherever they are.
So what does that mean for team leaders? Luckily, not much has to change. Successful virtual teams are still built on trust, communication, and collaboration – it’s how you achieve those that can be the challenging part. To help you get started, here are some valuable tips and tricks you’ll definitely want to have up your sleeve as you lead your own virtual team.
1. Build trust
Trust is one of the biggest business trends of 2018. While it might not seem like a revolutionary idea, in a world where businesses are becoming more complex, building trust within your virtual team is vital. Not only does it boost job satisfaction, but it encourages openness and communication – two of the most important foundations of a successful business.
Of course, trust comes from having complete transparency in business. But there are also a few small things you can do to boost it on a daily basis. Why not start with talking and writing faster? It might seem odd, but a 1976 study by Norman Miller showed that people that talk faster are more likely to be perceived as a leader. Something to remember for your next virtual meeting.
No one wants to feel like they’re being kept in the dark. To avoid isolating team members, make a conscious effort to keep everybody in the loop with regular team meetings. By creating an open space where people are encouraged to share their ideas, everyone can play a part in the decision making.
But perhaps the most important secret to successful virtual meetings is making sure you actually have them. This might seem obvious, but when things heat up, a regular catch-up can be the first thing to go. To ensure they become a regular part of your team’s calendar, schedule your weekly meetings for the same time every week, and make sure everyone shows up.
3. Maintain strong relationships by using video
Face-to-face communication should be at the heart of your virtual team. Not only does it strengthen relationships, but it brings a personal touch to the way you run your business. And luckily, thanks to videoconferencing, it’s easy to achieve.
Quality videoconferencing tools let you connect on different devices at a time that suits everyone, making it simple to bring your whole team together. What’s more, videoconferencing is really efficient (yes, really). Unlike the traditional variety, virtual meetings have been shown to boost efficiency for up to 94 percent of professionals.
4. Make it easy
Virtual teams run on great technology. Productivity and communication tools are a lifesaver when it comes to bringing people together to collaborate, so always try to make them available to your team. And don’t forget to get everyone up-to-date on how to use any new software or electronics – leaving your team members to figure it out for themselves is never the most productive option.
Finally, consider establishing a work from home policy. If your employees are making the shift to remote working, it can be helpful to include some useful guidelines for remote working. This will minimize any confusion and get your team members on an efficient path straight away.
5. Create smaller teams
When it comes to creating virtual teams, bigger isn’t always better. A recent study from Cornell University showed the smaller teams allow familiarity between team members, helping to boost trust and collaboration. It also makes it a lot easier to organize plenty of 1-1s, allowing you to check in on each individual and listen to any of their concerns.
Last, but not least, learn from your predecessors. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at leading your very own virtual team, remember the advice of Professor Watkins at IMD: Study the past if you want to define the future. Good luck!