Leading teams from a distance can be challenging and especially difficult to manage. Communication and collaboration are critical to any team’s success. They can often play a more critical role in working with “virtual teams.” With a little extra effort and commitment, virtual teams can be just as effective as face to face teams.
Tips for Improving Virtual Team Effectiveness
- Ideally, arrange for a newly forming team to meet in person or for an existing team to have several meetings face to face to form deeper relationships
- Use technology (e.g. zoom) to stay close to one another regularly
- When using video conferencing, develop a team norm that all “cameras are on” so that individuals can interpret non-verbal communication
- Provide training to people in the technologies and tools
- Prioritize collaboration tools and identify what types of tools will be used for what types of purpose to minimize multi-channel overload
- Ensure cameras ideally can rotate 360 degrees to broadcast all participants
- If one person is calling in remotely using a landline, place a tent card on the table to increase inclusion and participation with a physical reminder.
- Teams that are spread globally across multiple time zones increase the risk of burnout and working long hours to accommodate one another’s schedules. Set “core hours” to ensure team members get the bulk of their work done during normal business hours.
- Provide scheduling tools and develop policies that offer guidelines on “connectivity.”
- Utilize team norms to hold team members accountable for behaviours.
- If you are hosting meetings with multiple locations and team members are meeting in rooms, use break out groups to encourage more interaction and engagement. Have one person report back to a larger group.
- If your workplace permits, have each person sign in individually to participate in video conference meetings. Start the meeting with facial pictures and encourage conversation before switching over to slide decks etc.