Virtual teams are growing in popularity since many companies continue to grow and expand in different areas. But sometimes learning to manage a team that we can’t physically see every day can be difficult. When we learn how to manage our local teams, as well as our virtual teams, we can form a group that works together to increase productivity and provides a new perspective on any project.

Setting Up Your Virtual Team

One of the key challenges in managing a virtual team is creating one in the first place. The manager must find employees that can work well under minimal supervision and can function with different types of technology. Don’t let geographical differences hinder the team you want to create.

Choose Self-Motivated People with Initiative

One aspect of working on a virtual team is the ability to be self-motivated and self-disciplined enough to finish the job without someone looking over your shoulder. When building your virtual team, choose employees that show self-motivation characteristics, such as making goals and having strategies for completing assignments. If looking to utilise current employees, look for employees who have had a proven record for getting assignments done and sticking to what they want to accomplish. If hiring from outside the company, look at the person’s resume and see what kind of success they have had and how they reached it.

Characteristics of a self-motivated person:

  • They don’t fear failure
  • They have definite goals
  • They make plans
  • They are flexible when faced with a problem

Face to Face Meetings at First

Even though virtual team members will be working apart from each other, it is important to start the team in the same location, usually through some type of ‘kick-off’ meeting. At this first meeting, members are introduced to each other and usually exchange contact information. The manager would then usually introduce the goals, assignments, and future projects for the group. This is the time where employees can ask questions, discuss availability, and plan for what they will be doing during the course of the upcoming projects.

If geography is a problem for gathering everyone together, try to find a central location that is a fair distance from everyone involved. In some cases, employees may need to be present by phone or video to be a part of the meeting. Setting up a one-time video meeting or conference may be the only way to get some face time between all participants. Having that initial face time is very important to the overall success of the team.

Experienced with Technology

One of the most important aspects of a virtual team member is the need to be experienced with various types of technology. Team members will be in different locations, but will still need to keep in contact. Many ways employees accomplish this is to communicate by phone, email, fax, or even video phone. An employee must know how to operate different forms of technology in order to stay connected to other employees and management.

Assignments and projects are often sent by electronic files in a variety of programs and shared among the group to edit and sent along. If employees do not have a high level of knowledge when it comes to technology, they may not be able to function well on a team that relies so much on it. Current knowledge as well as keeping up-to-date with new and emerging technologies is required for today’s teleworker.

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