The new normal for businesses today is virtual or remote working. That means, effectively building and managing virtual teams is critical for leaders to learn. This is true whether you are building a Virtual Team from the start or transitioning your current team to remote working.
This article will cover 3 main areas for you as a manager or owner of your business:
- How to Build New Virtual Teams
- Transitioning Existing Teams to Remote Working
- How to Effectively Manage Virtual Teams
If you are evaluating whether establishing remote teams is right for your business, read here about why creating remote jobs is important for your business. If you are simply looking for ways that you personally can work more productively from home, check these Pro Tips for Working at Home.
HOW TO BUILD NEW VIRTUAL TEAMS
While many things are uncertain in the world today, there is one certainty. Businesses will continue to work more virtually in the future. Therefore, if you have not already started to do so, NOW is the time to start building virtual teams.
Why building a team is so important
Focus on Priorities – Creating teams means finding people that can help take things off your plate and help you achieve goals. You can then focus on the highest priorities for your business and the things that only you can do.
Bring in the Experts – You are an expert at the product or service you built, but you can’t be an expert on every single aspect of the business. Therefore, if you try to do everything, something is bound to suffer. It will also take you much longer to do what the experts can do. The solution is to bring in someone that does have that expertise. We will talk more about HOW to find these experts below.
Grow Faster – When you create a team of individuals from a variety of functional areas, you are able to work together to achieve business goals faster. Your business can scale and grow faster. You can spend 5 years alone working at something a team could help you complete in 1 year.
How to Find the Right People for Virtual Teams
There are many places to find the expertise that you need. Small business groups, social media, freelancer marketplaces, agencies, and traditional recruiting sites are all examples. The key is to first write down exactly what you need done and what qualifications you are looking for. Writing it out is not only important for the potential team member, it’s also a great way to refine exactly what you need.
Here are four job types that you may need help with and recommendations on how to fill them.
Strategic Help & Advice
Let’s start at the top – strategy. Let’s say you have a great product or service, but you need more help with the marketing or financial strategy. These are high-level strategies that will guide your entire business, so finding the right person takes careful consideration. Whoever you enlist to help with this must be extremely experienced, knowledgeable, and have a strong success record. These types of consultants or even mentors, are most often going to be found through Networking. They are going to be people that you meet at conferences, at small business meetups, or even through other businesses at your coworking space, such as Starthub.
Specialty experts are those people that you need to hire for a very specific task. It may be a task to be completed weekly, quarterly, or even just a one-time need. Examples are accountants, lawyers, copy writers, or social media managers. For these types of specialties, you can of course check within your network, but you can also look at small business associations in your area for recommendations or ask other small businesses. You can also post openings on recruiting sites, such as Indeed or Freelancer/Consulting Online Marketplaces, such as Fiverr and Upwork.
Ongoing Daily Tasks
There may be a variety of other non-specialty tasks that you also need help with. For these you will want someone very organized and experienced with virtual working. That’s where Virtual Assistants come in. If you find the right one that is organized, reliable, accountable, and motivated, then they can make a world of difference in your business! You can find Virtual Assistants through the same specialty resources mentioned above or you can go to a Virtual Assistant Company. They will vet, train, and back their VAs, so you have the confidence that you are getting what you signed up for. Examples of these types of VA companies are Time Etc., My Tasker, and Tandem. There are many more options, so have a look at all of the options before making a decision.
Virtual Office Services
If you’re moving your business entirely to a remote working capacity, then a Virtual Office can help take even more tasks off your plate, such as answering calls and mail services! A Virtual Office is a low-risk, low-cost, high-return investment that can help create the perfect environment and infrastructure for remote workers. It’s a service that provides businesses a physical address without the high costs of a physical office space. You get activities such as mailing, conferences, messaging, reception services, among others.
TRANSITION EXISTING TEAMS
When you’re building a virtual team from scratch, you are likely tapping into people that are accustomed to working remotely. However, when you’re transitioning an in-person team to work remotely, there are many new challenges that you need to prepare the team for. In a recent article in Harvard Business Review, some of these challenges cited are (1) lack of face to face supervision (2) limited access to information (3) isolation and (4) distractions at home. Here are some of the ways that you can prepare.
Determine how Team Roles will Evolve
The critical first step is to define roles and responsibilities. The role that each team member holds within your business will not necessarily change, but it will certainly evolve in a remote capacity. Work with each team member to understand their specific needs and challenges. You as the leader will also need to determine if there are new responsibilities that team members need to absorb while working remotely.
Define New Ways of Working Remotely
Next you want to be sure that your team has clearly defined Ways of Working. How frequently will you meet? Who will set up the meeting and who will lead it? Define who will take and publish the meeting notes? Will some be assigned to chasing down the actions following the meeting? These are all important questions to answer to establish remote ways of working together. We will talk more about this in the next section.
Finally, if working remotely is the permanent option for your business or you, check out a Coworking Space or Virtual office center, such as Starthub. These are fantastic options for meeting in person or just getting out of the house to work in a new environment. You technically need to use a real office space only when needed here and there and that’s how our solutions are built.
EFFECTIVELY MANAGE VIRTUAL TEAMS
There are many tips, strategies, and tactics for effectively managing Virtual Teams. But they all have one important common thread: COMMUNICATION! You, as the leader, must communicate goals, expectations, responsibilities, and culture. Team members must be given lines of communication back to you and across to each other. So let’s use a specific framework to look at how to effectively communicate and manage Virtual Teams. According to the Center for Creative Leadership, there are 5 Key Strategies for Managing Remote Teams.
Once you (1) Define the team and (2) Clarify roles and expectations, you will need to (3) Establish procedures. This is often where leaders and teams can get tripped up, especially when working in a remote capacity. Setting goals and objectives does not necessarily mean that they will get executed efficiently, correctly, or on time. Establishing Procedures means looking across communication as well as tasks for ensuring that each team member understands exactly what needs to be done, how it needs to be done, and by when.
Let’s take a closer look at two key areas to Establish Procedures in:
- Project Management
Communication with Virtual Teams
As mentioned, communication is one of the most critical elements of effectively managing remote teams. Therefore, be sure to first establish procedures for communicating – set rules for engagement. All team members should know the frequency of meetings, the agenda for meetings, and the responsibilities of members for each meeting.
Use video conferencing as often as possible. You want to give your team connection to one another and video is a great way to do that. It also sets an accountability tone. Team members cannot roll out of bed and show up with hair standing up. They need to prepare and present on video. Zoom has really set a standard during the pandemic for easy access to scheduled daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or any other frequency video calls.
You should also have one on one meetings to talk more in depth on topics and project status. Again, this shows that you want to connect and facilitates a more productive meeting.
Use Project Management Tools
Project management is the process of setting goals and objectives, and then mapping out the steps to achieve them. It allows you to schedule timelines and responsibilities at various stages. You can set milestones and metrics, as well as status check-ins to ensure progress toward project objectives. Without typical office visual reminders and in person meetings, days or even weeks can slip by without progress being made on a project.
Project Management tools that help you to create a road map and dashboard can really help. Team members are all given access to the app and can update and track project steps and status. Asana, Slack, Monday or Trello are a few of the more popular ones out there. Check with people in your network to see which ones they like best and research to see which ones fit your needs best.
Other Tips and Techniques for Managing Virtual Teams
Once you have established Procedures for Communicating and managing projects, you will want to start to look at additional tactics and techniques. STL, a leader in employee training, learning and development solutions, has provided a framework of best practices for leading and managing remote teams. This is a great resource and reminder of techniques to use with your virtual teams.
At Starthub, we offer comprehensive virtual office solutions. We’ll even give you your first month FREE. Just click here to get started. You’ll receive a prestigious mailing address in downtown Miami, dedicated mail handling services from a talented team, and an innovative digital platform to receive and direct your mail. Plus, 24/7 customer support.