5 Tips to Manage and Influence Your Virtual Team

April 27th, 10:03 am

It’s been more than a year since the pandemic started normalizing remote work. Whether we like it or not, the workplace has now evolved and virtual office has become the new trend. It’s been challenging for businesses to adapt to the ‘new normal’ as things had to be redesigned or completely transformed. Some rule and regulations were no longer applicable.

With this shift, how can you manage your virtual team?

1. Effective communication skills

Zoom CEO, Eric Yuan, revealed that as of March this year, the application has reached more than 200 million daily meeting participants.

Communication is the key to managing creatives on your virtual team given that members can come from different time zones, are of different age groups, and have different home life set up. Workers may not be in the same room but are still sharing the same virtual space.

If one person is disconnected (not only pertaining to internet connectivity) but fails to be in sync, the virtual team collapses. Since communication is only on-screen, being disconnected can send various messages.

What to Do:

  • Create a guideline so everybody knows what the standard virtual team working practices should be. The guideline will serve as the basis for misbehaviour in the virtual workplace.

    • Mute audio when someone is speaking to reduce background noise (baby crying, pan frying, loud music, on-going construction, dogs barking, angry neighbors) and to avoid interrupting or distracting the speaker.

    • Encourage members to be polite and professional, and to use appropriate words only.

    • Ask the team to turn on their video. Maybe not for the entire period, if internet connection will be a problem, but at least the majority of the time.

      Communication can be verbal or non-verbal and not all member tends to share their insights. Non-verbal communication can be through facial expressions, gestures, and other body movements, indicating whether members agree, disagree, or has something to say.

    • Setting appropriate chat status (online, away, etc.)

  • Talk about something other than business, before, in between, or after virtual meetings, video conferences, webinars, calls, and chat.

    • It’s been a long time since workers have met in met in person. A lot has happened to everyone.

    • Keep each other updated about how they’ve been during the pandemic.

    • Keep the conversation fun and light.

    • Come up with simple but effective team building activities. Team building may not be too often but should at least be constant. So, workers get to know each other more and build relationship other than just being workmates.

    Setting schedules of meeting days earlier. Remember that people are working from home and you can’t control their environment. Don’t put your team on the spot then get upset when they can’t make it.

  • Engage everyone on the team.

    • Don't do all the talking. Don’t dominate the conversation, otherwise, it wouldn’t be a conversation at all.

    • Ask each member to speak their mind and share valuable insight, especially during the planning stages. Do not let anyone feel isolated.

    • If a member can’t make it in the meantime, still take him into consideration before coming up with a final decision on the matters at hand. Devise a way to allow members to catch up with missed schedules and discussions.

    Assign someone to note down the minutes of the meeting and have it sent to the team’s chat groups or emails after. This way, no one will be missing out and no one can make excuses about not knowing the details of the meeting.

    If possible, personally inform the missing member about his particular role and responsibilities.

  • Be responsive.

    • Reply to chats and emails as soon as possible.

    • Maximize responses and make them detailed. Try to fit everything you need to say in one reply. So, it’s important to construct responses carefully.

    • Reply with continuity instead of plain, “oh, really, ok, good, done, finish, submitted”, etc.

    • Ask open-ended questions instead to encourage sharing of ideas

virtual team

2. Goal-setting and task delegation

Goal-setting is a powerful motivator identifying what individuals need to accomplish objectives and reach targets. Goal-setting maximizes the time and probability of hitting the short-term and end goals.

Read more about how to manage your Remote Teams

What to Do:

  • The new remote work policy should be clear.

    • Discuss what is expected of each of them.

    • Discuss what role will they be performing.

    • Discuss how the company plans to measure their efficiency.

  • Goals should be broken down into specific short-term goals to be delivered within a transparent and realistic time frame.

    • Give members a vision of the bigger picture instead of merely assigning random jigsaw puzzles they wouldn’t understand where to fit.

    • Set weekly plans, quarterly plans, and end goals.

    • Delegate tasks according to capability and time availability. Remember, member’s availability may differ.

    Take into consideration the background and capacity of each member to work remotely. In an office set-up, where equipment and tools are always available, it’s justifiable to expect more of all employees. But working at home can have some deficits and some members might not have it easy. Members could be taking roles in the household apart from being an employee.

    • Examples:

    Parents with young, dependent children. Members with poor internetconnection. Members with part-time jobs to cope up with the pandemic.

  • Allow each to think individually to come up with ideas to contribute collaboratively.

    • Give workers time to think individually. Ideas sometimes come when least expected.

    • Set another schedule to discuss what each has come up with and meet halfway. This promotes collaborative thinking.

  • Assign responsibilities and members should update when the task is finished. Schedule a meeting to follow up or report updates.

3. Provide feedback and coaching if necessary

What to Do:

  • Schedule giving feedbacks regularly. Feedback and coaching can be on-the-spot when the situation requires them but most of the time isn’t.

    • Individual feedback first. It’s important for each member to understand the weight of their individual responsibilities and how a poor performance would hinder the entire team from reaching the short-term and end goals.

    • Team feedbacks after. Acknowledge each member’s contribution to the team and give constant motivation and direction. After positive feedback, discuss any shortcomings, changes in the plans, and setbacks, if any.

  • Don’t forget to ask the members whether they agree or not with the feedbacks and coaching reasons.

    • It’s important for each member to understand what they’re doing wrong and what they needed to do to stay in line with the team’s goals.

    • Feedback without guidance and edification is useless and can be misinterpreted by the member.

  • Feedback should be based on work performance and behaviour.

    • Are workers delivering in time?

    • Are goals being met?

    • Steer away from personal issues as much as possible.

    • Feedbacks shouldn’t be all negative. It should cover both the areas the worker needs to improve, as well as those he should continue doing. This is considered balance feedback and will not be damaging to a worker’s morale.

Read more on how to engage back with your peers.

4. Looks matter so look your best

Even while working remotely, draw a line between work and home. Yes, it’s favorable working while sitting on the couch, but don’t get too comfortable. You’re still on duty anyway.

What to Do:

  • Have plain, clean background.

    • If your software allows you to change your background, choose one that’s not distracting.
  • Still dress professionally.

    • Make sure you’re wearing something waist down.

    • The ‘out-of-bed’ look should be for your eyes only.

    • Fix your hair. Wear some light makeup if you will but be presentable.

virtual team

5. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ software

What to Do:

  • Make the most out of technology. Utilize several software applications if, possible.

    • Emails are usually for longer messages and personalized instructions. Members can come back to it whenever they needed to read. Replies are easier to monitor as well.

    • Chats are for short conversations which require real-time responses. Preferably for short conversations. Don’t send vital information or personal instructions on chats because the person you’re addressing might not be online to read it especially when other workers reply about other stuff in the chat and the thread gets longer.

    • Video conference and meeting are for instructions easier given verbally than written to allow members to raise questions and clarifications. This also works best if visuals will be used such as proposal, and presentations.

  • Choose to use user-friendly technology which everyone can easily navigate with little or no supervision.

    • Members don’t have equal skills when it comes to the utilization of software applications. Commonly, older employees have a hard time navigating and ask for assistance from others. But with a work-from-home setup, help may not always be around.

    • Reach to find out if a member is struggling.

    • Use specialized software which suits your team management plan.

Did you know...

A survey by Global Work Place Analytics and Iometrics reveal a majority of employees currently working from home preferred to continue doing so.

  • 76% of office workers worldwide say they would want to continue working from home even after COVID
  • Only 6% say they wouldn’t consider working from home in the future.
  • 60% of office workers would be willing to give up their jobs in exchange for working from home.
  • Employer can save about $11,000 per year for every person working from home

Given these statistics, virtual teams might be here for the years to come.


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