Have you noticed that today’s work environment is drastically different from the workplaces of the past? Enhanced technology has brought us a whole new world of productivity with the emergence of virtual teams.
In our most recent Tech Park Academy, Dr. John Zachary, founder of the industrial-software development firm Cognize, detailed the challenges of using a virtual workforce and how to get around these:
Challenge #1: Too many moving parts to monitor
One of the biggest problems for the manager of a virtual team is that there is simply too much going on. Remote workers are all over the globe and it becomes difficult to coordinate everyone’s schedules. As a result, day after day, urgent problems aren’t getting resolved because no one seems to be talking to each other. In short order, you become overwhelmed and it starts to affect your business operations.
This is where the first principle of effective virtual teams, proactive management, comes in. With virtual teams, simplicity is key. Scale back in order to have as few roadblocks in your communication channels as possible. Only implement tools and software that everyone can learn to use, and give them time to do so. The leader of the virtual team must also work to ensure team cohesion by establishing specific goals for all involved. Through proactive management, you will know that in addition to speaking with the leader, everyone is communicating effectively with each other.
Challenge #2: Uneasiness among team members
Sometimes when managing virtual teams, you may no longer feel comfortable with your staff, and they don’t feel comfortable with you. As such, employees stop following through on the tasks they’ve been assigned, and you may become reluctant to give them anymore. You become aware that the team members have issues working with each other, but no one will come to you for help. Once again, work stops getting done because no one feels that they are a valuable part of the group.
To combat this discomfort, the team leader must build trust for their team and, in turn, earn the team’s trust. With remote workers the best way to do this is by communicating, directly and often. The team members will follow the lead of a manager that is open and sincere with all of them. So, a leader should give praise regularly, but also be honest at all times. If an employee feels trusted and valued, they will feel more comfortable and trusting of the other members of the team.