How to collaborate with your virtual team effectively?

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Collaboration is a great way to bring the best out of your team and get them to work together but it can prove challenging especially if you’re working with virtual teams. So how do you make sure you’re collaborating with your virtual teams effectively?

Check out our time-tested and proven tips here:

Meet with everyone involved to get everyone on board and excited!

This is very important and should never be skipped because you have to make sure everyone is on the same page as you and there is no better way than to meet everyone altogether.

If you’re the visual type of person who is uneasy about not seeing people in person or not having some form of visual aid, the best way to go about it is through a video conference call. That way you can actually see people and get a better feel of their presence and their level of excitement. Technology has made collaboration with your offshore team even easier with tools such as call and chat applications like Skype or online meeting tools like GotoMeeting. The best part about these types of tools is they allow you to share screens with the people you’re conferencing with making it is easier for you to give instructions or show a process.

If you’re already using Skype but unfamiliar about how to share screens, here is a step-by-step instruction:

  1. While in a call on Skype, go to the Call menu
  2. Choose Share Screens
  3. Click on Start Sharing button
  4. Start sharing your screen
  5. To end, click on Stop screen sharing button
Create a plan and a timeline

When you’re working with multiple people in different locations, it’s easy to get excited and to just jump in and start delegating tasks but in everything, it is always best to have a plan. Make sure everyone knows what the plan is, what targets to hit and what timelines to beat. This way people have an idea what pace to take and what level of priority and commitment is expected from them. Having a plan also ensures that everyone is on track. Make sure you revisit the plan every now and then to refresh your team.

Set the right expectations on functions and areas of responsibility

This is where in-depth knowledge of your team comes in handy as it tells you who can best do what. In the absence of this knowledge, you can collaborate with another leader (i.e. an Operations Manager) who can help you run the project and keep everyone in check. Having an Operations Manager also allows you to take yourself away from the project or activity to work on bigger things.

People in your team need to know what their accountabilities are and who to answer to so things remain organized. This is especially helpful if you’re running bigger teams of people or multiple teams.

A tool that is very helpful for this is Asana as it allows you to add members to a project, assign a task to them and set deadlines Asana allows you to add comments, add file attachments and just recently it now has boards which is very handy for creative and design-related types of projects. There are also many other similar programs like Base CampTrello or Slack, just google “project management tool” to see a few demonstrations and decide which ones work well for your type of organization and processes. 

Provide an appropriate avenue for feedback

A lot of teams start off really well but midway into the project, interest either waivers or people go offtrack. Having a place for people to properly send their feedback is a great way to keep them engaged and answer whatever questions they may have while performing their tasks or working on their deliverables.

Teams can still make use of Asana, Google Drive or Dropbox for work-related questions. For more sensitive information, your team leaders may also send survey forms to all team members on a regular basis or have one on one touch base sessions.

Provide timely feedback

Feedback can be a great source of learning for your team and an excellent idea generator but only if appropriately placed and is timely. Feedback that is received after a project has gone wrong or problems have already arisen is counterproductive and definitely misplaced.

Your people should have a mindset of being solutions-oriented and have their own initiative to improve things. More so with virtual teams as there are non-traditional challenges to this type of business model.

recognition
Recognize job done well

Most people probably take this for granted but recognition in the workplace might actually be a bigger motivator than any type of monetary or physical benefit. Some people even leave companies for smaller ones due to lack of recognition and too much anonymity.

Recognition doesn’t always have to take a big form, a gentle pat on the back with “Great job” or a simple comment on an output to say how well it was done will do the trick. It is just a simple way of telling people their work is valued and they are a contributing to the team. It is a non-monetary benefit but goes a long way for people especially those you don’t see everyday and only communicate with virtually.

You can also integrate fun activities such as “Say thank you with coffee” or “A gong for you!” to make it more interesting and engaging and create your very own unique company tradition.

Celebrate successes

Set targets for your team and celebrate milestones. Whenever you hit a target or reach a milestone, it should be a reason to celebrate and not always in monetary sense as well. You can create banners per team or per person and if a milestone is achieved, the banner gets showcased for an entire day or entire week until another milestone is achieved. This is a great way to keep people on track as well and encourage them to strive and achieve more.

If you’re ready to take collaboration to a higher level, let us know and we’ll get you the right people to work on your business! Schedule an initial assessment with us!

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