Recently, the number of people working remotely in the UK reached over 17% of the population, with 5.6 million people mainly working from home at the end of 2020. Whether managing a virtual team is part of your new norm or having a virtual team is the basis of your business, managing your team’s productivity will always be a big concern.
We’ve spoken before about building a strong virtual team and how to encourage team building in the virtual space. But how do you ensure that your remote team is fully productive? Especially seeing as you’re not all together in a physical space where you can guarantee that everyone is working when they say they are.
Managing virtual teams to guarantee productivity can be done effectively by ensuring you have the following aspects of your business up to scratch.
Have the right infrastructure
The first step towards managing a successful virtual team is to have the right infrastructure in place. Although infrastructure like software and collaborative tools may be expensive, they’re a worthwhile investment if it means getting the most out of your virtual team.
The most important infrastructure you’ll need to truly tap into your virtual team’s productivity is a project management tool. Some popular options are ClickUp, Trello, Asana, Monday.com and Wrike. The right project management tool will allow for seamless collaboration and communication.
To effectively manage your virtual team, ensure your staff have access to all the programmes, tools, and resources they need to do their job efficiently. Make sure your virtual team understand and are comfortable with all your company processes and systems and that they know who to contact when they need something.
One of the biggest challenges associated with remote work is collaboration, yet it is vital to the success of your business. According to a survey conducted by Buffer, 17% of respondents found collaboration to be a significant issue when working virtually.
Collaboration builds trust and helps your virtual team tackle problems together. You can encourage collaboration by setting a collective goal that everyone can focus on and work together to achieve. Collaboration also helps team members feel more connected and less isolated, which is important considering 19% of respondents in Buffer’s survey said loneliness was a challenge they face working remotely.
Collaboration doesn’t always have to be work-related. You can hold virtual team-building meetings that are about having fun, learning more about each other, and cultivating company culture.
Maintain open communication
A big part of managing any team is creating and maintaining open and honest communication. Having this type of relationship with your virtual team is the quickest way to identify and resolve issues as well as to ensure that everyone is productive.
The tricky aspect of managing virtual teams is you can’t simply keep your office door open for employees to drop in like you would in a traditional office. But it’s a good idea that, when you’re online for the day, you try to be approachable and personable.
Whenever you connect and have meetings with your virtual team, drive meaningful conversation about their personal lives, interests, and wellbeing rather than sticking solely to work-related conversations. Also, encourage your team to keep their cameras and microphones on during online meetings so that you can connect with one another and communicate easily. Remove all barriers to building a strong, bonded team, because deep connections will help your team to be more productive!
Have regular video meetings
In their 2019 Impact of Video Conferencing Report, Lifesize found that 89% of respondents say that video calls help them feel connected to their teammates and that it reduces the amount of time spent on completing a project or task. The report also found that 98% of respondents stated that video calls help with relationship-building both inside and outside the company. These are all good reasons why regular video calls are important for promoting productivity.
Even if it may feel like video calls clog up your calendar and get in the way of work being done, online meetings can do wonders for building relationships within your virtual team and leaves very little room for misunderstandings or miscommunications. It also gives your team more opportunities to ask questions and get clarity on what it is they need to do, saving time on going back and forth via email all day and improving productivity.
Make yourself available
Much like maintaining open communication is important when managing virtual teams, so is being available. Set your status to online or available as often as possible in between meetings and focus time. A sure-fire way to guarantee productivity is to hold regular individual check-ins with each person on your team and set yourself a turnaround time to respond to your team’s queries.
Your role in managing your virtual team is to be a source of support so that your team feels like there is a sense of leadership and that there is always someone to turn to when things aren’t going according to plan.
Always be available when it comes to solving problems and brainstorming solutions, this will reinforce your virtual team’s trust in you and make it easier for them to approach you.
Respect working patterns
It’s important to remember that, if your team have joined your company because of the benefits of working remotely, you need to respect that they may be working in different time zones or are on different schedules to you. Allowing employees to work when it suits them is the quickest way to maximise productivity.
Over 77% of respondents in CoSo Cloud’s recent survey said they’re more productive working from home. So, you can rest assured that your virtual team is going to be productive, particularly if you respect the fact that they will not always be available or online.
We recommend keeping an availability sheet, accessible for everyone to see, which indicates each team member’s working hours.
Promote work-life balance
In Owl Labs’ State of Remote Work Report, they found that 77% of people said that working remotely makes it easier to manage a work-life balance, with 27% of respondents saying that working from home leaves them feeling less stressed.
By simply having your employees work remotely, you’re already encouraging work-life balance in their lives. But there is even more you can do to promote a work-life balance to guarantee productivity.
Spend time reminding your employees about the importance of switching off. Encourage them to stay offline when they are meant to be spending time with their family and friends. Placing emphasis on maintaining a work-life balance will result in more motivated and productive virtual employees. If you acknowledge that your employees have a life outside of work and encourage them to take regular breaks, you will build a virtual team that’s guaranteed to be productive.
If you are one of the many businesses that will be working remotely for the foreseeable future, it is important to understand that managing virtual teams comes with its own set of unique challenges. One of which is how to keep productivity levels high. However, by ensuring your virtual team has the tools they need to collaborate and communicate as well as having regular video calls and being available to your team when they need you, you are on the right track to cultivating maximum productivity in your business.