10 Tips for Managing Virtual Teams Like a Pro
Updated: Nov 16
The idea of remote work isn’t new. Since 2009, the number of people working from home has grown by 159%. No, that’s not a typo. More people are looking for remote work every day. The pandemic indeed skyrocketed this search. But the data shows that people have been searching for quite some time.
This means that more companies are searching for people who can successfully manage a virtual team.
If you want to learn more about remote team management, look no further. We’re discussing our top 10 tips for managing virtual teams like a pro.
Challenges of Managing Virtual Teams
Managing a team, be it remote or in person, is tough. However, managing a virtual team has unique challenges.
Each team is different, but overall virtual team management faces these challenges:
Loneliness: Detachment from human interaction is one of the biggest challenges for virtual teams, including team managers. Findstack reports that 19% of remote workers of all levels struggle with loneliness.
Communication issues: A solid communication system is key to successful virtual team management. Unfortunately, some teams don’t choose the right tools and battle communication errors and poor delegation.
Work ethic: Some people work better in an office setting. Human interaction enables certain people to meet deadlines. Some workers may delay communication by not responding to an email or chat. Managers may perceive this as a poor work ethic or poor communication.
The good news is that all of these challenges offer solutions. Let’s talk about overcoming these challenges when leading your virtual team.
Overcoming the Challenges
1. Allow for flexible work schedules
Better work-life balance is largely why people select remote work over working in a traditional office. Flexible work schedules help accommodate your staff and lead to a happier team.
Also, not all your team members will work in the same time zone. It would be best to accommodate this by offering flexible work hours so your team can function of their own will.
Doing so gives you a few advantages:
See who is currently available to work on a task
Track how each team member works
See when each team member likes to work
Lastly, have the work hours overlap. A general rule is to have at least three to four hours of each shift overlapping the other shifts. Doing so helps bring your team together and allows for better scheduling.
2. Organize meetings for different time zones
Communicate with your team regularly. Because not every member works in the same time zone, it’s your responsibility to organize meetings suitable for each work schedule.
Know the schedule each team member works and work in a meeting. Staff can select a different meeting time if needed.
Have meetings and have them often. Offer discussions and create agendas so progress is made during each session.
3. Partake in virtual training
Participating in virtual training as a manager is vital to mastering the art of virtual management. This also goes for your team.
Different kinds of virtual training exist like technology, cultural, and group training.
Training doesn’t have to come through a class either. It can be through videos, books, and assessments. Get creative!
4. Choose video calls above chat
It’s easy to send a quick message whenever you need to discuss something with a staff member. But short messages often lead to misunderstandings. There are several communication tools, and video is best.
Video allows for more extended, in-depth conversations. Plus, it’s more personal.
5. Try remote management tools
Remote management means you need a system for excellent communication and task management. Companies everywhere are marketing new software such as:
These software companies help remote teams stay connected, finish tasks and projects on time, and set goals. You can utilize these tools too!
6. Hire the right people
Not everyone is suitable for remote work. Some people work much better in a traditional office. Post your job listing on websites dedicated to remote work to find the right people. Sites like WeWorkRemotely and FlexJobs are great places to start.
You can also post the listing on your company’s website and social media.
When it’s time for the hiring process, go through multiple stages of interviews. Ensure that the candidate’s personality is compatible with the rest of your workers.
7. Nurture the company culture
Company culture isn’t unique to traditional offices. Foster an environment that is safe, fun, and hard-working. To do so, build relationships around the reason you and your teamwork for the company in the first place.
Think about what you want your employees to say about the company when asked, “What’s it like?” Build your team around that vision.
8. Talk to other virtual team leaders
Ask for help from other virtual team leaders. What are they doing successfully? What could you do differently?
You can’t lead an entire team by yourself without asking for help. Connect with other virtual managers and build relationships.
9. Have a weekly report
Ask your team every week how their week went. What were their wins and challenges? When employees answer this question honestly, they include parts of their personal lives that affected their workweek.
This is an excellent opportunity to get to know your employees personally and help them with their professional life as well.
10. Build relationships with your team
As a remote worker, it’s easy to forget that you work with real people. Engage in conversations with your team that are not work-related. Get to know your team. Have fun!
Getting to know your team will help them realize that there’s someone else on the other side of their screen that cares about them—you. Likewise, you’ll remember that you’re not herding a bunch of ones and zeros.
The best thing you can do as a virtual leader? Break down the barrier of remote work. Make connections with your staff.
Your team will work hard and diligently and leave you proud to be a virtual leader.