If you’re used to working in an office, moving to a virtual team can be a big adjustment. It can be an even bigger adjustment if you are in charge of the new virtual team.
Shifting from an in-office environment to remote work changes the dynamic of the workplace. As a leader, you will need to change the way you communicate and collaborate with your team and the way you lead and manage employees.
The good news is that while change will be needed, adjusting and thriving in a new virtual team is possible. Here are a few tips to help you and your new virtual team with the transition.
#1) Set up a project management software.
When you’re in an office, it’s easier to communicate with your team about project statuses and productivity. While working side-by-side with someone, you can easily provide guidance and hold them accountable. This isn’t the case with a virtual team.
Since you won’t be able to easily check-in in-person, you will need an online solution. Use a project management software to create a digital dashboard where employees can update their progress, productivity, or output. Some software suggestions include:
#2) Give employees what they need to succeed at home.
In addition to setting up software that helps employees manage their remote work, also provide employees with the office equipment they will need.
Employees will be more productive if they have the same tools that are available to them in the office. Ensure that each member of your team has a computer, phone, and internet access. Support them even more by offering to help them create a designated at-home workspace that includes a monitor, mouse, keyboard, desk chair, or other essentials.
#3) Clearly outline communications guidelines.
There are dozens of communication methods to keep your team connected outside of the office. While this is a good thing, it can quickly become a bad thing if you don’t put guidelines in place for how to use the communication methods.
One person on your team might think text is a good way to communicate while another uses chat rooms. It can quickly get complicated if you aren’t on the same page (and the same platform), so set guidelines to outline communication expectations and best practices. For example:
- Designate contact rules (such as no texting for work-related issues, only using chat rooms for urgent matters, responding to emails within one business day, etc.).
- Set expectations for online meetings (for example, if it’s going to be a video call, let your team know so they can be prepared).
- Whenever possible use video calls as a way to stay connected with your team and set a structure for online meetings (such as always introducing who is on the call, having a set agenda, assigning a lead for the call, etc.).
#4) Schedule one-on-ones with individual team members.
In the office, you probably have one-on-one time with most members of your team during the week. You may stop at their office to chat or bump into them in the break room. These organic in-person situations won’t arise with your new virtual team, so you need to schedule them.
Set at least one meeting per week with each team member. The meeting doesn’t need to be long or structured. It can just be a virtual “water cooler moment” or a set time to check-in and connect.
#5) Ask for feedback.
You may be the leader of your new virtual team, but that doesn’t mean you need to be 100% in charge. When you shift from an in-office team to a remote team, the change is new for everyone. You are all learning how to adapt together, and every one is going to experience it in different ways. Welcome those varied experiences to improve and iterate on your systems and processes.
Get in the habit of asking your team for feedback. See if anyone has suggestions or issues with your project management software. Check in to see if the communication guidelines are working or if anyone has any suggestions. Solicit feedback in both public and private forums to get authentic opinions. Working as a team will help you improve processes faster and make the systems better for everyone on the new virtual team.
#6) Remember to have some fun.
Switching to a virtual team may seem a bit exciting at first. But, it can start to be a drain on a team if they aren’t used to working solo from home. This fact is especially true if there is a major business disruption (like adjusting the workforce during COVID-19) that led to the change. Don’t let the stressors weigh down your team by making some time for fun.
While you can’t have in-office parties, you can hold some sort of online event or experience that brings your team together. Consider hosting a virtual pet parade, welcoming your employee’s children to jump on a call, creating a book or movie club, or hosting a contest. Look for opportunities to keep the human connection with your team even if you can’t see them in person.
Need Help Managing Your New Virtual Team?
Whether the shift from working in an office to a remote staff is permanent or temporary, the change can be challenging. Use the tips in this post to make the transition easier on you and your new virtual team.
If you need more advice on adjusting to changes in the workplace, Career Source Central Florida is here to help. Explore our Business Services to see how we can support your business during workplace shifts.