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The challenges and best practices for working as a virtual team

Following COVID-19 office life has seriously changed with many organisations now operating with virtual teams to adhere to social distancing measures. This abrupt new style of workplace environment possesses a new set of challenges and obstacles that require businesses to adopt different practices to get the best out of their teams.

Ensuring you utilise technology and software can aid your team performing at its peak, regardless of their physical location. By having a well-equipped infrastructure that is reliable and secure it gives you the foundation for effective remote working. Therefore, ensure you invest in your tech and help reduce the physical gap between your staff. In reality this is establishing the use of the best suited tools for your organisation. Consideration towards which software and platforms you use for voice, video and file-sharing etc, can really benefit the organisation in the long run and help maintain that team members have an engaging and productive working environment. 

> Read next: The best tools for collaborative working

If you can create the right working environment for your remote staff, the next challenge is to manage them and to do so effectively. In order to do this, it’s important to clarify expectations right from the beginning. Management’s role is to make sure that everyone understands the company goals and their individual roles in helping to achieve this. Communication is key in these situations and regular catch up sessions and ensuring all staff are accessible during working hours is key too. This is where using the best suited platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Slack or Trello become extremely useful. 

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In addition, keeping your remote team members in the communication loop will help to reinforce their sense of inclusion and understanding of what’s going on in the business and can also act as motivation for participation in proposing ideas and brainstorming sessions actively. Setting up processes and expectations will improve your team performance. Communicate, follow up, repeat – don’t let anything slip through the cracks.

Letting people work remotely but then tying them with a fixed schedule can be counterproductive. Flexible working is considered a top benefit for remote team members, allowing organisations to handle different time zones and circumstances and is arguably an organisation's way to show respect and understanding of the remote team. 

Social distancing can make this next practice a little bit difficult but where possible face-to-face connections should continue in some format with your remote team members. This helps to build trust and strengthen relationships despite everyone being in various locations.

Because of different locations, people working remotely sometimes lack a personal connection with other team members. The best way to overcome this challenge is by gathering the team at least once or twice a year. This is especially important for new hires, as they will get a chance to connect names to faces and get to know their team members which will later help them collaborate better. Understandably this is a difficult practice to put into reality with the current COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, where possible would be great to implement for your business. 

Remote teams are evolving and will continue to do so with the current state of the world. Therefore, I hope this article has shown that the best way to manage a remote team is by building trust, fostering communication, and focusing on efficiency by utilising technology.

Ewen
by Ewen

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