Hiring remote personnel is becoming a more common practice that offers advantages to both the company and its employees. For instance, virtual collaboration allows a business to recruit a highly qualified workforce, no matter their geographic location. This is a real opportunity for employers to build the most talented teams because location is no longer the limit it once was. And for employees, virtual collaboration has the added advantage of a more fluid schedule, absent of the time and stress associated with commuting to and from an office.
Nevertheless, despite such obvious benefits, guiding an effective virtual collaboration team demands effort and an attention to detail. As a leader of a remote team of professionals, it’s easy to feel quickly discouraged by the challenges that naturally arise during collaborative efforts. With that in mind, here are some helpful ways to make remote collaboration more effective.
Make Everyone Feel Important
It probably comes as no surprise that people are willing to work harder when they feel like they’re a valuable part of the team. In fact, this is an important aspect of leadership. However, the distribution of tasks can become more complicated when some employees work remotely, while others are located onsite. Make sure remote workers feel included, so they have a sense of belonging at the company, too.
Hire Experienced Remote Workers
Working with virtual collaborators is easier when they already know how to work under such conditions. Lower levels of supervision and being able to connect despite different time zones are some of the most common challenges for remote team members. Thankfully, there are websites to help you screen candidates for remote positions the next time your company is hiring. Such sites can help you narrow down the search to employees who have prior experience with long-distance teams, and are accustomed to working flexible hours, as well as the limitations of virtual collaboration.
Organize Video Conferences
Video conferencing tools are an effective way to organize virtual collaborations in real time because these platforms allow people to interact directly, rather than through email, for example.
Daily or weekly video conferences can help remote colleagues feel more connected and ensure everyone is on the same page. It’s also easier to get to know co-workers through online video conferencing platforms. Obviously, tone of voice and facial expressions don’t transfer through computer text.
Another option is to carry out quick checkups with all members of the team via messaging apps. This way, you can easily get a sense for the concerns your co-workers and employees have, and open a channel for communication.
Use Virtual Collaboration Tools
The most successful companies with experience in putting together remote teams use specialized tools to enhance the experience of virtual collaboration. And, although the needs of each long-distance team will vary according to their specific line of work, using remote tools for the following areas can provide great value to all remote workers:
- Project management
- Time zone management
- Instant messaging
- Video conferencing
- Time tracking
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Foster Casual Communication
Foster an online environment of open and honest communication so employees know they can reach out during times when they’re struggling. Of course, it’s important to remain professional, but remote workers will likely find it more difficult to ask their teams for help if the work culture is overly formal.
Fortunately, the Internet offers several tools to encourage more casual interactions, such as a Slack channel, or an internal message board. These places are great for chatting about topics outside work to relieve some stress for a few minutes, or even to remember personal events like birthdays.
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Pay Special Attention to Written Communication
It’s possible that some of your virtual co-workers have great hidden potential, but interpersonal skills are not their best quality. For instance, people who are great behind the scenes may find it a little more difficult to engage in video conference calls because they’re shy. However, written communication doesn’t demand great social skills. By giving these employees some extra attention, you might discover they have underutilized skills that you previously overlooked.
Good Work Deserves a Reward
Good work deserves to be rewarded. Rewarding great employees keeps them motivated and encourages them to do their best because they feel appreciated. While bonuses and raises are the most traditional ways to demonstrate to workers that you’re aware of their contributions, there are also other ways to show employees that their effort is valued.
Hire Trustworthy Employees
As it can be more difficult to determine if a remote employee is trustworthy than an onsite worker, leaders of virtual teams must pay special attention when hiring new colleagues. Regardless, building trust with new employees takes time and is fundamental to the effectiveness and productivity of virtual teams. References are an important part of the hiring process when selecting together remote collaborators.
Create a Document with Clear Guidelines
Important information about the working aspects of your team should be outlined in a shared document. This is another way to share workplace culture, even when it’s remote. Specifically, assign all team members their respective roles and tasks so there’s no confusion or overlapping.
This shared document can help to establish standards of behavior within the team. This way, each member is aware of their specific responsibilities and can focus solely on their related tasks.
Organize a Team Reunion
Many remote companies arrange yearly get-togethers so all of their employees can socialize and reconnect. If the business has a central location, organizing a reunion can bring various benefits to virtual collaboration. Such in-person gatherings, even though they’re infrequent, can help to forge closer professional ties and engender trust.
Virtual Collaboration Simplified
Leading a virtual collaboration team comes with multiple challenges on both personal and professional levels, but ReadyTech can help your business grow and thrive. For solutions, contact us at +1 (800) 707-1009, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to book a demo.