Three Basic Principles To Making Virtual Teams Work.
Working with teams is pretty tough going – with all those people with different ways of working, things they love and little things that could be misinterpreted. It’s a constant challenge. Add in the mix being virtual then a host of other issues may arise. Not seeing them, them not seeing anybody else, the distractions from working at home and couple all that with the pandemic rules of staying in, not hugging and not seeing anyone else up close each and every day. Our bubble is being challenged from every angle.
According to Michelle Poole from Virtual Hand “The first basic principle of Communication is stretched so much more with a virtual team. It’s not just the channels of communication, acceptable language and team spirit.” When the team is virtual we need to employ more opportunities to be ‘together’. So, whether that’s ‘co-working’ on a virtual platform – so everyone can ask questions, see others working and feel like you’re in the same room. Perhaps Team meetings need to be longer; with time for personal stuff – personal achievements, get help with issues – such as the dog continually whining to be played with or taken out (just me then!) or trying to manage home schooling (I know this has impacted many people and families). The addition of social events, quizzes, bingo and the like that can be conducted online with a more relaxed, fun aspect. There are many group, team building events available to use; some free and some to be paid. I would encourage managers to check in with their team regularly – getting to know them more and the issues they are having; that support is invaluable for people living on their own whilst trying to stay safe and work also.
If you have a team, work towards being very aware of their skills matrix. What they love to do within that range of disciplines and perhaps skills that aren’t being utilised within the business but would be so valuable for the team. Maybe they are an entertainer in their spare time, love to fold paper or work with a charity and have skills that the team would benefit from – or the company itself. Linking with above why not run a ‘Who’s Got Talent’ event and raise money for a Charity.
I’m a firm believer in the carrot rather than the stick. Giving praise and rewards by recognising the work of your team. Can that greatness be shared – some peer support perhaps? Simple thank you’s go a long way or even a postcard in the post. Little things recognising efforts and work help to maintain momentum and personal pride.
It is all extra effort, I appreciate that, but to be honest it will not be in vain. Your team will stay with you, will buy-in to your organisation and will come out stronger at the end. Especially if the business is considering it a long term movement to virtual working. Look after your team and your team will look after you (business).