Remote Working: A Guide To Managing Virtual Teams

A year on from the start of the pandemic it’s becoming even more apparent that remote working is here to stay. Firms are truly embracing the new style of working, and also seeing the benefits it provides their employees. Employees who are able to work remotely often have a better work life balance and can be more productive than when in the office. 

Finding the right balance and set up for remote working can be difficult especially when this is still new territory for many businesses. Fortunately, we have an abundance of technology and online learning platforms to help make tasks such as collaborative working and learning management easier for all involved. So, how can companies implement the tools and skills required to train, communicate and manage virtual teams effectively?

Establish Structure

One of the first ports of call when managing a virtual team is to set up daily structure. This can be something as simple as a 5 minute team catch up each morning to regular long form team meetings and one-to-ones. The key is that these are held regularly and generally at the same time. Why? This gives your team a sense of structure and allows them to plan their working day accordingly. Employees will also feel reassured that they have time set aside to ask questions or just have a conversation with colleagues. 

Collaborative Working

When it comes to technology for virtual teams, collaborative working is key. Without the ability to handover hardcopy documents like in an office setting you need to replace this with the ability for teams to share, edit and manage workflow. Applications such as Microsoft Teams, SharePoint and OneDrive make this process simple. If the company does not have access to these platforms then the Google suite is the perfect free option and includes the likes of Google Docs, Slides and Sheets. 

Make Sure Communication Is Varied And Open

Not everyone likes video calling, and not everyone’s home setting allows for hour long video calls on Zoom at 8am especially if there may be chaotic breakfast times with children happening. So make sure that employees are aware that they have the option for no video or have the options to communicate with you via different channels such as email, Slack or even work group chats on WhatsApp. Alongside these, as platform such as Watch and Learn could be beneficial, allowing for asynchronous communication via video, text and audio chats, as well as more traditional video meetings. Communication is vital for effective remote working and in order to manage virtual teams successfully there should be several clear ways to communicate for employees. 

Online Learning

When working remotely employee learning can take a little bit of a hit as it’s not always easy to ask in-depth questions of colleagues, or attend learning and development days in person. Luckily there are online learning management systems available, which can help to up-skill employees and ensure they’re making progress within their role. Ensure employees have access to a variety of learning and development skills, even if it only consists of cross-skilling within the team. 

Support

Remote working can be daunting and oftentimes lonely, so make sure employees have excellent support from management. Employees can sometimes put off contacting management about issues they may be having, as they don’t want to be a burden, so ensure that you regularly check in with employees and their wellbeing. If your workplace has employee assistance/counselling plans in place then ensure that employees know how they can access these should they feel like they need additional support.

If you’re starting out on the virtual team management journey a great place to begin is with your team… Ask for their input on what apps best suit their needs, how they’d like the structure to flow and in which ways you can best support them in their learning and development goals. Seeking employee input will make for a better experience all round.

Webanywhere have a whole range of products and services which can assist you when it comes to tackling communication and learning with remote teams. Contact us to find out more.