Working virtually is slowly, but steadily becoming an increasingly common phenomenon and more companies are taking advantage of this. Working remotely eliminates the need for office space, eliminates commuting time, lowers overhead costs and, in many cases, promotes a better work-life balance.
Virtual workers have the privilege to control where they operate from and how they work. However, just like every coin has two sides, it can become easy for vested interests to exploit this power and work inefficiently. This is where virtual team effectiveness and productivity take a huge hit.
Few tips on managing virtual team and improving virtual team effectiveness
Mentioned ahead are a few steps that a business can take to ensure that its virtual teams stay high on the productivity quotient and perform to the best of their ability.
1- Call for Meetings Every Quarter
If you can, arrange to have face-to-face meetings once in every quarter.
During such meetings, you will be able to not only talk to your teams/team mates, but also study their body language and eye contact, which may result in a better interpersonal connection and higher levels of trust. If meetings don’t seem like a possibility, use video chat instead.
2- Set Up a Project Management System
One of the best ways to manage a project effectively is by having reliable project management software in place. There are several Web-based programs available. You can test them and pick the one that suits your business needs the best. This can work very well with virtual teams as it would make it easier for them to perform tasks collectively on the cloud. As one team member works, the others can track it, see their task lists, deadlines, and other important specifics.
Nutcache, for example, is a great solution for virtual teams.
- You can keep all your project-related documents in one cohesive place, eliminating the need to go through your emails for finding previous versions of documents every time.
- Your virtual team members have the options of keeping the existing boards or create new ones.
- Besides, you can use this one single platform to keep and create attachments, worked hours, invoices and expenses.
- From project ideation to realization, Nutcache provides full coverage.
- Better yet, you can even keep tabs on the advancements of your project as well as on your budget using its comprehensive dashboards.
For every project, there are bound to be documents that will need to be read or edited by other members of the team.
A project management tool like Nutcache can help in this regard as well as in your collaborative efforts.
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Sharing your screen with co-workers can be made hassle-free with project management software.
It aids better collaboration as the each team members can actually see exactly what the other member is doing on the project.
3- Track Work Hours
Tracking work hours is crucial not only for better time management, but also to be able to pay your team members accurately, especially if they’re working on a per-hour basis. High-quality project management software can ensure that the manager is aware about the team members’ presence and their individual contribution to the project.
Monitoring and tracking work hours is also important to calculate the time each member takes to complete a task and how accurately he or she is reporting time estimates. A project manager can generate monthly reports on a regular basis and allocate incentives to the most productive team members.
Here again, Nutcache can be handy. In fact, Nutcache was originally designed as a time tracking tool.
You can therefore be certain about its efficiency and effectiveness when it comes to time management.
The tool displays a calendar view that includes day/week/month as well as worked hours for each team member/project.
4- Allow Flexible Working Hours
Team members working from home prefer to work during certain hours of the day when distractions are few and productivity is high. While it is okay to permit a degree of flexibility in the work timings, determining a period of time when all the team members need to be online and work together is also vital to the success of the project.
Working together is important as it reduces communication gaps, prevents delays and speeds up tasks, thereby enabling the team to meet deadlines. Without this, team members will simply have to wait for a reply before they can resume their work.
5- Simplify Working with People in Different Time Zones
Many a times, virtual teams comprise of people working from various parts of the world in different time zones.
However, this should not become the cause of communication issues and postponements. It is crucial to determine a certain period of time when all the team members are online and working in tandem. Conducting meetings become easy this way.
6- Choose the Right Technology for Better Communication
Whether team members communicate through chat windows, talk on the phone or conduct video calls, different communication technologies can be used to enable better communication.
Video calling is the most preferable as it is the closest option to face-to-face meetings.
7- Build Databases to Share Knowledge
It helps to have a shared knowledge database that enables all members of the team to have access to the same information. This will also ensure that every team member is equally aware of the information provided and everyone will be on the same page.
Such a database can be instrumental in preventing and solving several communication issues, as well as speed up the project delivery.
8- Have an Open Chat Room
Another tip to ensure the flawless flow of communication is for every team to have a chat room of their own, which is open at all times. The discussions that take place could be both, work-related and non-work-related.
However, it is also critical to ensure that these chat rooms do not become a source of disturbance or distraction for the team members and/or lower their productivity significantly.
9- Accommodate Cultural Differences
When the members of a virtual team come from different parts of the world and hence, belong to different cultures, there may a slight possibility of miscommunication. It is, therefore, important to understand and be accepting of these differences so as to promote a harmonious and a dynamic working environment.
Conclusion on Virtual team effectivemeness
Working virtually need not necessarily be a hindrance. In fact, such teams can perform as efficiently as conventional teams.
All it takes is the application of some of the best project management practices and common sense to meet deadlines and achieve the project goals.
The above tips should help in boosting effectiveness among your virtual team(s). Use them and you will be able to anticipate and mitigate every productivity issue.