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Successful virtual team management: 12 best practices

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Managing any team is a challenge, but managing virtual teams is more complex. In this case, you don't see colleagues personally and need to overcome all the difficulties to create a corporate culture remotely. A virtual team is a group of employees that work together online and communicate using digital tools. Members of these teams can be located in different countries, but they are working on one project remotely.

Well, what about the performance of remote teams? Just have a look at the table below:
Here you can see that before the COVID pandemic, only 17% of US employees worked remotely. So far, we have over 44% of employees that work from home. Even so, this didn't influence the productivity of virtual teams. Just look at these statistics. Around 68% of companies worldwide announced an improved level of productivity during the third quarter of 2020.

Nevertheless, not all virtual employees can be effective. In this post, we'll give insight into the theme of managing remote workers and review the best practices for managing virtual teams.

Suppose you are engaged in software development, marketing, retail, or any other industry and struggle to manage your employees. In that case, these tips might help you tackle those challenges and incorporate superior performance in teams. Get comfortable and have a look!

Contents

Overview of the Main Benefits of a Virtual Team

As you can see, there's a growing tendency to work remotely. Many world-renowned companies have already started going online because of COVID and don't want to go back to their offices because managing virtual project teams has numerous benefits. So let's take a closer look at the fundamental advantages of virtual teams:
They are more cost-effective
As cliché as it may sound, virtual team management is cheaper than having in-office employees. In such a scenario, you'll avoid such costs as office rent, electricity and Wi-Fi bills, buying office equipment, including servers, computers, desks, etc. In this case, remote workers are responsible for almost all of these costs.
1
Easily scalable
It goes without saying that when your project is growing, you have to scale up your operations and hire new experts. In this case, new problems arise - you require more office space, more furniture, office supplies, equipment, etc. That's why running a virtual team is more beneficial for you, as remote workers take care of all these issues independently.
2
Available 24/7
You know that when hiring virtual workers, they can be located anywhere in the world. And all of them are living and working in different time zones. Do you know what that means? In such a scenario, you can make your company work 24/7. For example, your developers from Prague can start working while your programmers in Washington are still sleeping.
3
Healthy work-life balance
When choosing remote work, employees have more spare time to follow a healthy life balance. Simply put, they can spend more time with their families, going in for sports, and the like. Overall, it is easier for them to build the right balance between home and work.
4
They are more productive
Check out the statistics, and you'll see that over 57% of employees are more productive when working remotely. There's no need to spend their precious time getting to or from work. They can use this time for exercising or home tasks instead. Plus, most companies provide their workers with flexible work hours, making them happier and more satisfied with their chosen jobs.
5

What Are the Best Practices for Managing a Virtual Team?

Although remote work has numerous benefits, it is still a challenge for some business owners to organize their employees' work. Various technological glitches on calls, inappropriate experience in this or that niche, or some connectivity issues - all this can influence the whole team's productivity. If it sounds familiar to you, and you don't want to bow to reality, check out our virtual team management best practices. They might help you overcome many issues, find a solution, and make your team members feel more collaborative. Check them out and put them in place right away!

Tips on How to Improve Their Productivity

We hope that the below-listed recommendations will help you get the most out of your virtual teams.
Ensure work hours overlap
Unfortunately, time zones can damage communication. If most of your team members are working in different time zones, then your first priority is to ensure your team has an overlapping period when all of them are working. You have to plan your virtual meetings during this period. Remember that a significant time zone difference between your team members may destroy collaboration. It is more effective to hire online professionals either in the same time zone or when the time is up to four hours apart.
Make sure deadlines are clear
Your next task is to check whether you set clear deadlines and expectations. Remember that when your colleagues understand when the task must be done and how long it takes to complete it, in all likelihood, they will deliver the result on time. Don't neglect this issue, and always set deadlines and notify your employees about your expectations.
Provide your team with appropriate technologies for the interaction
You need to ramp up your efforts and use effective technology for interaction. It's one of the best practices for virtual team effectiveness. Ensure all the team members can quickly share documents through secure and flexible technologies. Here is just a small list of technical solutions for the management of virtual teams:
  • Communication technologies;
  • Collaboration software;
  • Project management software;
  • Document sharing platforms;
  • Scheduling tools;
  • Time tracking software.
Remember that the chosen technologies must be fast, secure, and have many features. In this case, the work is more efficient, and you'll get the best possible results.

Work on Teambuilding & Communication

You also shouldn't neglect the emotional commitment. Your first and foremost task is to create an environment where a leader, a developer, a project manager, or any other specialist feels comfortable and secure. Let's list a few tips that might help enhance teambuilding and communication.

Provide them with multiple communication tools

Make sure you have regular online meetings

Regular online meetings are mandatory to keep up the team spirit and maintain connections. In doing so, team members can share some news or facts that can be misinterpreted when discussed via messages. Plus, employees can see each other, talk to each other, and get to know each other better. Therefore, plan online meetings at least a few times per week when scheduling your week.
Another critical aspect to consider is choosing the right communication technologies. All your employees are working remotely. Therefore, you have to provide them with the most effective communication tools and make sure they don't face any issues related to discussing daily tasks. For instance, video conferencing allows you to ensure that all the team members are immersed in the discussion. Microsoft OneNote notebooks can make collaborating more effective as in this tool, one can easily share ideas, note tasks, and delegate them.

Define the right communication style

Build a united culture

Besides using powerful technologies, you should also care for the working environment. This is probably the best practice for managing a virtual team. Create a united culture and build a working environment where employees feel engaged. Celebrate even inconspicuous achievements together, have some time for small talk, ask your employees about their holidays and weekends, etc. If you want to make them more productive, you have to know each individual better.
This is where a lot depends on the requirements of your project. Therefore, you have to select the right communication type that works best for it. For example, emails are used for fast interactions. Various programs like Skype or Google Hangouts are perfect tools for instant messaging. Video chats allow you to see your colleagues and see what is going on with them online. Project management tools are used to keep communication organized.
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Create a Pleasant Working Environment

Here are a few recommendations that might help you create a perfect virtual space and make your team members more productive.

Create a virtual water cooler

Use a project management system

If you are looking for the best practices for a virtual team, you simply can't pass by this recommendation. If you have a small team, you can use emails or online messengers to set up tasks. But that's not effective and safe. If you care about the safety of your personal data, you should opt for project management tools. They enable you to organize all the documents and conversations in one place. In doing so, it will be easier to find all these tools later. Overall, if you want to avoid an unmanageable mess, you must use safe and effective management systems (Redmine, JIRA, Trello, ASANA, Wrike, and the like).
Remote work has numerous benefits and offers all sorts of freedom. However, there's no personal connection with other remote employees. Sometimes, they don't even know each other. A virtual water cooler is a virtual space to take a break. This is where virtual workers come together and experience something like in-office meetups. It's one of the best ways to interact with other workers.

Create a charter that establishes norms of behavior

Make sure you have effective collaboration on documents

Google Drive is probably one of the best collaboration tools that enable multiple people to work on the same document simultaneously. This lets you ensure that even inconspicuous aspects won't be missed, and you'll have all the information in one place.
In doing so, you'll make virtual meetings more effective. The main objective of such charters is to create established standards of conduct when joining virtual meet-ups. They usually include such requirements as reducing background noise, talking clearly, not talking over each other, etc.

Agree on a shared language

If you have a virtual team, its members may belong to different cultures. Cross-cultural teams have their own set of communication challenges. If most of the tasks that your team performs are technical, you are using the language of science, and you can be doubly sure that you understand each other and your communication is effective. But if your tasks are more creative, the chances that you won't understand each other are higher. This is where you may create a document with a shared language.

Fayrix Case Studies

Overall, developing a virtual team and leading it is not easy. If all digital tools available on the web don't cater to your needs, contact Fayrix experts! Here, at Fayrix, we pursue one goal — to help our customers get the most out of their businesses with the help of our software solutions.

We have many years of experience in software development and many success stories that can prove our experience in this niche. Telesvyaz is one of our recent projects for a Russian engineering company that develops powerful and complex telecommunication projects. We built a mobile app that records conversations between the client and the project manager and delivers them to the company's servers. Later, it helps evaluate the employee's work and improve their efficiency.
INTELLIGENT PROCESSING OF THE RECORDS
Client: Telesvyaz, Russia, is one of the leading engineering companies and system integrators providing the development and implementation of complex telecommunication projects for enterprises and organizations of any size.

Scope: Development of the mobile app for iPad from scratch. The app records the conversation between the manager and the client and automatically sends the data to the company's server for further automatic analysis of the employee's work.

Technologies: Swift, RabbitMQ, Postgre, Java.
Overall, if you require a custom solution to help your business grow, don't hesitate to drop us a line, and Fayrix professionals will help you find a solution.

Final Thoughts

Utilizing the best practices of managing virtual teams, you'll undoubtedly improve the efficiency of your virtual team members, speed up an array of tasks, improve communication, and gain trust. It's not an easy challenge that only the best team leaders can overcome. We hope our tips will help you in accomplishing this task. If you are searching for IT professionals that will help build a powerful, multi-featured, and customized tool for your company, don't hesitate to contact experts from Fayrix. We'll do our utmost to create a solution that will help meet the needs of your team.

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