5 Ways to Develop a High-Performing Virtual Team
In recent years, working patterns in many office-based businesses have seen significant changes, becoming more flexible and dynamic. Organisations are now employing more remote-based or ‘hybrid’ workers, sometimes in highly distributed locations across the UK – a useful strategy for businesses looking to widen their geographical recruitment net to avoid local skills shortages. On the employee side, many staff are keen to explore hybrid working, combining WFH with office attendance to create a better and more productive work/life balance.
However, there can be downsides to physical separation among team members that can impact cohesion and working efficiency, as sometimes it can be harder for team members to collaborate remotely on shared tasks and therefore performance could suffer. There are, however, several ways to build online team productivity and boost morale among virtual teams.
Here are five ways to help you on your way to developing a high-performing virtual team.
1) Give Your Team the Right Tools
Effective collaboration online ultimately starts with access to the right tools. Without them, remote teams can struggle to deliver the same efficiency and productivity as they would in the office. This can become extremely frustrating and demotivating over time for all parties and play a major role in the breakdown of communication between team members.
Whether it’s communication apps, project management platforms, video conferencing and file storage tools, or fast and multifunctional laptops and devices, you need to equip your teams with the tech that’s appropriate to their roles and your field. Online workers need high-quality and reliable tools and equipment to keep the workflow smooth and uninterrupted and provide easy accessibility to everything they need to do a great job.
2) Provide Opportunities for Individuals to Bond
One of the risks of virtual working is that team members spend less time together forming strong relationships, which can impact how well colleagues collaborate and perform on team tasks. However, there are steps you can take to improve team bonding and cohesion without removing flexibility from your employee’s day.
Consider organising online icebreakers and team exercises. Virtual lunches or chat facilities can also allow people to express themselves informally outside of formal work activities. If possible, try to organise occasional face-to-face meetings, group training, and team building sessions. Planning these well in advance will allow people the time to make the appropriate arrangements in order to be available.
3) Organise Regular One-to-Ones
Without regular office contact, team members may have less awareness of what is going on in the business and how their roles and KPIs align with business objectives. That makes it especially important for Managers to schedule regular one-to-ones to discuss projects, raise important issues and generally catch up. It is also extremely important to have and stay on top of team goals - Having objectives or milestones that a team commits to working toward together, helps them stay focused and aligned in a decentralized environment and promotes collaboration.
Equally as important as what’s being discussed in these one-to-ones is how best to conduct them. A key tip is to use video calling. This sets a good precedent for open communication and feels more personal. It’s also the closest you can get to replicating a face-to-face environment, meaning that your team members will be more accountable and present in the meetings.
4) Don’t Forget to Recognise and Reward
A danger with remote working is that hard work can easily go unnoticed or slip under the radar, and it can become increasingly challenging to reward people’s triumphs in a way that shows genuine gratuity. However, making recognition a priority and committing to finding new and creative ways to reward team members will keep motivation and morale high in your virtual teams.
5) Understand the Unique Work/Life Balance of Each Team Member
Although there are many benefits to having a more flexible work routine, it is a well-known phenomenon that remote workers in virtual teams can struggle to draw boundaries between their home and working life. Coming into the office marks a clear statement of being 'at work', but without this, blurred lines can occur.
Managers need to help employees foster sensible working routines and respect personal boundaries, recognising different preferences when it comes to working hours and ways of working. High-performing virtual teams understand and embrace their unique dynamic and different rhythms and make it work for them. This also allows team members the appropriate opportunities to relax and recharge, leading to better overall performance and morale.
GRA's Team Development Training
At GRA, we have over 30 years of experience helping teams to achieve optimum performance through training and development. As a blended learning company, we also offer virtual training to meet the needs of remote workers and those with busy schedules. Get in touch today to discover the benefits for your organisation.