What Does It Take to Make Virtual Teams Successful?
Efficient teamwork is the ultimate success factor for virtual organisations. Though not every company has gone virtual, the trend is rapidly increasing. In fact, 90 percent of all employees who have had the opportunity to work in virtual teams plan on working this way in the future.
But what are the core ingredients for successful virtual teamwork?
Here are what we believe to be strongest ways to achieve efficient, high-performing – and committed – teams.
Develop Joint Goals
To be effective as a team, it seems obvious that you need to have clear goals and objectives. Yet in the age of agile project management, many teams don’t necessarily treat goals and objectives as priorities. However, if you’d like to enjoy a success as a virtual team, then set goals and objectives for projects together in the beginning and revise them as you go. Define tangible daily, weekly, monthly and annual goals that you would like to jointly achieve and that make sense to all team members.
Even better: set up your projects using a cloud team-based solution such as asana. Connecting all project team members using a cloud collaboration tool will help to efficiently structure workloads and streamline workflow.
Make Diversity a Core Strength
A team is only as strong as its members. The members of your team bring as many different perspectives and strengths as possible to your workplace. Different horizons of experience, members from different backgrounds and with diverse skills – all this enriches work in a virtual team and releases lots of positive vibes.
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Organise Your Team to be Transparent
Trust is an important prerequisite for successful cooperation in a team.
And operating transparently is a solid way to build trust amongst virtual and remote teams. Openly share with each other the projects that you are working on. Again, using a cloud project management solution such as asana or Trello will help team members to integrate, communicate, and share. Agree on project plans with milestones and ensure all team members can access the projects online. Communicate progress in virtual team meetings on a weekly basis, to build trust and confidence amongst team members.
Create an Open, Respectful Working Environment
An open and informal working atmosphere is an essential requirement to foster trust in in a team.
Pressure and competition can be real performance killers for virtual teams. Conversely, respect, openness and tolerance encourage motivation and a sense of responsibility. Team members will be most positive when they believe their ideas and needs are being heard across the team. Focus on common goals and tasks, and avoid politics at all costs. Especially virtually, it’s critical to be on time for meetings and stick to agreed timelines, so that trust and respect can flourish.
Grow an honest communication culture in which team members believe it is safe to provide their viewpoints and feedback. Ensure everyone has access to all information relevant to their work. Make the most of digital possibilities to optimise communication on the team.
Never before have you had more opportunities to communicate with your colleagues at work! Learn more about using different means of communication to achieve your productivity goals.
Give POSITIVE Feedback – and Regularly!
Regular feedback between team members helps to keep your team on course, practically and psychologically.
For example, reserve a 15-minute slot in a regular meeting during every working week where each member enjoys the opportunity to provide positive feedback. The feedback does not always have to be positive, yet it is most helpful if it’s constructive so that team members have the opportunity to learn and grow from the feedback. And if you’d like a 1:1 engagement, schedule a virtual coffee over a video call to exchange feedback!
Positive feedback creates an atmosphere of motivation and satisfaction, where team members can thrive. Research cited by Harvard Business Review shows that team members who receive positive feedback share almost six times more positive feedback than average teams. And low-performing teams share almost twice as much negative feedback as do average teams!
Celebrate Joint Successes
Now that feedback is positive and regular, it’s also important to set aside dedicated time to celebrate success together.
For example, this could be a project milestone or the completion of an entire project. Even when it’s one team member leading the success, the entire team can celebrate together, to further underpin an environment of positive feedback. For smaller projects, celebrations can be over video and recognition could be in the form of online gift vouchers.
And the best way to celebrate a big success? By celebrating face-to-face! Get together for a couple of days in a location that benefits everyone, for work and leisure activities. Consider hosting a team retreat every year to celebrate the year and plan on the next year together. Get more ideas here.
Equip the Team with Digital Tools
Cloud communications solutions for voice and data, bundled with collaboration platforms and productivity apps, are fundamental to the success of virtual teams. When setting up your digital infrastructure, think about the mid-term and consider how the tools and apps will work together. For example, Trello, a web-based project management app, seamlessly integrates with Google Drive files and folders using what Trello calls a Google Drive Power-Up feature.
Communication and collaboration are at the core of every team’s relationship core, and working virtually makes these enablement tools even more mission critical. Furthermore, Millennials and Gen Z in particular are digital natives and will appreciate working digitally, in every way. In fact, they won’t work in any other way, so embrace the future today – go digital!
We are paving the way with cloud-based communications solutions. We would be happy to advise you on your journey to the next generation of communications. Discover the freedom to communicate your way and join us for a consultation.