More and more companies are offering employees the option to work remotely. With this growing trend, it becomes harder to manage a virtual team while still maintaining a high level of productivity and performance. However, a combination of technology and the right management styles can ensure your virtual team is engaged and efficient.
Technology is your friend.
One of the downsides to working away from the office is the risk of disengagement. However, you can easily counteract the lack of human interactions by the use of technology. Use cloud-based project management systems, like Basecamp and Asana, to ensure everyone is up-to-date, and keep in touch with each other on closed social networks such as Yammer and HipChat to keep an open, on-going conversation throughout the workday. And, host meetings through video conferencing tools rather than conference calls to ensure you aren't losing that essential face-to-face contact.
Account for different timezones.
Geography might make things a bit difficult, but that just means you have to make the effort to ensure being in different timezones doesn't get in the way of team productivity. When handing out deadlines, account for the fact that team members may not get around to the task until the following day. With this in mind, however, try to find 30 minutes to an hour every day when you are your team members are all online and working at the same time. This will give everyone an opportunity to ask questions and clear up any concerns about projects.
Out of sight doesn't mean out of mind.
Don't forget about team members who might be on the other side of the country or world. Keep them in the loop and ensure they are always up-to-date. The last thing you want is to make team members feel as though they have been forgotten just because they chose flexible working.