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How to Manage Virtual and Remote Teams

How to Manage Virtual and Remote Teams

March 20, 2023

By Team tawgl

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77% of workers believe they are more productive when working remotely - CoSoCloud

After the pandemic, there has been a shift towards remote and hybrid models of working. As a result, managing remote and virtual teams has become an essential skill for many leaders. While this has proven to be beneficial for both organizations and employees, it is new territory and therefore comes with a lot of challenges. So how does one go about this?

What are Virtual Teams?

Virtual teams refer to teams that are completely virtual and do not have a physical location. These teams are made up of individuals who work from different locations, but are brought together through digital tools and technology. Virtual teams can include freelancers, contractors, and employees who work for different companies or organizations.

What are Remote Teams?

Remote teams refer to teams that work from a distance and are dispersed across different locations. These teams can be made up of individuals who work from home or from other remote locations, and they may communicate with each other through various digital tools, such as video conferencing, instant messaging, or email. Remote teams can also work for the same company, but may be located in different offices or regions

What are some of the challenges that come with managing virtual and remote teams?

Managing remote and virtual teams can be challenging for managers, as they have to overcome several unique obstacles that do not typically arise when managing a co-located team. Some of the common challenges faced by managers when managing remote and virtual teams include:

  1. Communication: Communication can be more difficult when team members are not in the same physical location. This can lead to misunderstandings, miscommunications, and difficulty in conveying tone and context through written communication.

  1. Collaboration: When working in remote and virtual teams, there can be challenges in collaborating and working together on projects, which can result in delays, errors, and a lack of productivity.

  1. Trust: Managers may struggle to build trust and relationships with team members who they do not see on a regular basis. This can make it more difficult to build a sense of team cohesion, and to ensure that team members are accountable for their work.
  2. Time management: Time management can be a challenge for remote and virtual teams, especially when team members are in different time zones. This can make it difficult to schedule meetings and coordinate work, and can result in delays and missed deadlines.

  1. Technology: Technical issues can arise when working with remote and virtual teams. This can include issues with video conferencing software, file sharing, and other communication tools, which can result in delays and frustration for team members.

  1. Isolation: Remote and virtual teams can be more isolated than co-located teams, which can lead to feelings of loneliness, disengagement, and burnout among team members.

  1. Culture: Managers may struggle to create a shared team culture when working with remote and virtual teams. This can make it more difficult to align team members around a shared mission, vision, and values.

What can managers do to handle remote and virtual teams better?

To handle remote and virtual teams better, managers can take a proactive approach and implement various strategies to address the unique challenges faced by remote and virtual teams

Here are some ways in which managers can efficiently handle remote teams.

➡️ Open up direct lines of communication - A major obstacle to remote work is maintaining constant and clear communication. Therefore, all critical stakeholders, need to decide what modes of communication work better for their business like email, instant messaging, video conferencing, and project management tools and then urge their respective teams to use them.

➡️ Set expectations and responsibilities forth and convey them - To ensure that everyone on the team is on the same page and working toward the same objectives, it is essential to define their roles and expectations explicitly. Regular check-ins and timely feedbacks are critical. Team members can also be coached, by regular communication of the deliverables expected.

➡️ Encourage Teamwork and Collaboration - HR professionals and reporting managers alike need to promote opportunities to get together virtually. Teamwork and collaboration goes beyond work as well, so set up a time with the respective teams to just catch up and say HI. Great Informal relationships after all make formal ones much stronger. 

➡️ Support Needs for Remote Work - Working remotely can be difficult, particularly if team members lack the required tools or assistance. Companies should provide remote workers with the tools they need, including technology, home office supplies, and training materials, etc. Also in the Indian context, our infrastructure at home isn't really built to support WFH - some stay in a small house, joint families, etc and there isn't room for everyone to be at home all the time. So, companies need to be patient and help co-workers settle in this new world. 

➡️ Encourage work-life balance - A number of employees say that while remote work is great, there are sometimes when there is little or no bifurcation between work life and family life. Therefore, it's important to be cognizant of maintaining a balance between the two. To prevent burnout and sustain team members' well-being one can follow flexible work hours, promote breaks, and encourage activities that support both physical and mental health.

In conclusion, managing remote teams can be a challenge, but with time, managers across the globe are developing better methods and strategies to tackle the new normal. 

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