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The Internet along with other technologies has made remote working a reality for employees and has completely revised the way businesses operate in the today’s modern world. But this change is also one of our greatest competitive strength. We can hire talented people from any part of the world.

We live in a connected world so, connected that we don’t even need to leave our comfort zones and still get the work done on fingertips. Modern day job seekers and businesses all over the world are adopting the same in the form of virtual teams.

So, before learning how to manage virtual teams let’s first understand what it is?

Virtual teams are teams entirely consist of remote workers. A virtual team is a group of individuals or employees who are geographically scattered across different locations locally or globally and different time zones sharing information and cooperating in real-time using various technology tools like online communication, cloud applications etc. Managing virtual teams has its own set of challenges and benefits, but overall the benefits outweigh the difficulties.

Here are 7 strategies on how you can manage your virtual employees

Choose right communication tools

Communication is one of the tops challenges for virtual teams. It requires a plan to drive it. Since teams aren’t together in a co-located office, everyone needs to be dynamic in creating a communication schedule⁠. Discussion that takes place in an office can sometimes be immensely helpful and productive, generating new ideas that might not have come to light in another context. Email, in particular, is a solid tool for conversation, Skype or Google Hangouts are great for quick instant messaging. Virtual phone systems centered on cloud technology can be used for quick calling and task management. Also, Project management tools can help you keep your communication in a lot more organized manner and you can refer to it whenever you want. It also helps new people when they join, as they can refer the previously discussed points. Also using screen sharing tools like TeamViewer, Join.me etc. comes handy when you want multiple people to see the same screen in real time.

Promote remote team building

Remote team building won’t happen naturally and it’s not an overnight process, it requires constant efforts on your part as a virtual team manager, also from your team members. Some easy ideas for team building are a daily video standup, a weekly meeting where the team can share about their personal life along with professional thoughts like what they did over the vacation or weekend. Additionally, setting professional goals contributes to being systematic and puts people in the right mindset.

Track working hours

In a flexible environment, it’s becomes difficult for a manager to actually find out how many hours team members are working or even if they are working at all. In this case you need to track work hours by using software to make sure that your team members are working on the tasks at hand, few software can help you see what projects are being working on, which websites team members are visiting, applications being used, and even time spent working and time on breaks in real time.

Make expectations clear

Simply telling verbally someone to do a task is usually not the best way to go about managing teams. Put your expectations into writing exactly what you expect from your virtual employees including work deadlines, work hours, availability, and response times. Also include small details that are specific to your business which can cause trouble when working with virtual employees.

Build trust

It is important for the executive team to cultivate and encourage an environment of trust and give team members the benefit of the doubt. This should go without saying. Leaders are still bringing the idea that remote work does not mean less work. Build trust in your colleague’s by giving them space to speak openly to discuss individual ideas without ridicule or judgment.  Employees should feel comfortable while having conversations where they can be honest and frank with each other as this will help build strong relationships not matter which part of the globe they are located.

Over Communicate.

More communication means more trust-building, less confusions and misunderstanding and better teamwork. Also, not to mention, it is one of the key components which adds to the broader success of the organization in long run. Effective communication can the solve the problem of many employees who feel isolated working outside the office. The individual may overthink about the quality of their work judged or just feel out of the loop. While communication is essential for remote teams, overloaded information can quickly become a problem where no one understands anything.

Rewards & Recognition

Have you heard of the saying “no good deed should go unrewarded”. Make sure you set up a reward system to keep your team motivated and its better pinpoint the team members that can take on more responsibility. You do get up personally and praise your employees and probably pat on their back when they do something good. Remote employees work just as hard as employees based out at an office. And they need the occasional praises to stay motivated just as much, if not more.

With time teams are becoming more and more spry and less constricted to a physical location. Managing a remote team is fun and challenging at the same time. Ultimately it has proved to be rewarding for many companies across the globe. If you want to remember anything from this post, it is to bump in with your remote team frequently, and make sure everyone gets the time they need. If you’re planning to build a virtual team, then keep the above tips in mind and arm the tools you need to be successful.

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