Managing Teams Virtually (2023)
Even if your team was on-site or in-office, good project management is essential. However, when you add a virtual team to the mix, then good project management is essential. It can literally make the difference between success and a “sinking ship.”
This article will help you understand the issues involved and how you can turn a negative into a positive. How you can lead a virtual team with great project management techniques. Let’s get started.
The fact that you’re here, reading this, already sets you apart. A majority of team leaders and business owners are completely unaware and therefore unprepared to lead a remote team to success. Unfortunately they believe that it’s business as usual. Remote teams project management however requires new techniques and tweaks on the old ones in order to make it work.
By reading this article you are setting yourself head and shoulders above the pack.
According to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, the average US business operates at just 51% productivity. You can check out the white paper on this topic here. That’s already a 49% inefficiency rate. However, when you factor in remote work, things get even worse.
As every seasoned manager and team leader knows, even when working in an office, face to face, there are issues that must be addressed and processes that must be optimized. Things constantly fall through the cracks. Pipeline issues are always at play.
… And the Ugly
Remote works ads another layer of complexity on top of an already complicated issue.
At the team level, remote work makes communication harder than it needs to be. This also seeps in at the client level. Even in a brick and mortar office, communication with clients can be problematic. Who for your team said what to your client… and when did they say it? Now add the remote work layer on top and you can see how things can spiral out of control.
At the infrastructure level there is also another layer of complexity that’s added. Your team must now communicate, work and conduct business remotely. Your information “highway” must support this. When tens of thousands of dollars are on the line, little glitches in the “information highway” can result in project failures.
Fortunately Global Office (GO) Data Hub was build exactly for managing projects with virtual teams. It gives you the edge to stay on top and keep your team on track. More on that later. For now let’s concentrate on what it takes to successfully manage virtual teams.
Managing teams virtually takes a lot of know-how. You must not only set clear goals and methods for achieving them, you must inspire.
Start by setting the goals and going over the project with the virtual team. The clearer you are, the better. You can go here for more information on project management and goal setting. Talk to the client. Discuss with your team. The more time you spend planning, the better you will be prepared to create not only parameters of how your project will be completed, but how it will be completed by your remote team.
Go over the steps that will be needed as you go through the process. Try to lock down which member of your team will be taking care of what step. Don’t worry, you can stay flexible and change things along the way as you see fit.
If you’re working with GO Data Hub then setting the steps, tasks and delegation is super easy and flexible. Sharing information is a breeze. Your team already has access to all the planning no matter where they reside. We recommend you use the in-app chat or video/audio conference calls so all the notes will be available to one and all.
Whatever solution you choose, just make sure to be clear, detailed and organized. This will pay back in spades once remote work starts.
The next thing to do is inspire your team-mates. For virtual teams this usually means a call. Your voice is crucial. Have your cup of coffee and make sure you’re awake, focused and on the ball. Nothing ruins a meeting and setting a positive tone more than a dreary, half asleep, “I’d rather be doing something else” tone in your voice.
Having said that, it’s also not that happening to have a fake over the top type tone where everything sounds as if you’re announcing the next circus act.
One of the most important part of leading a virtual team is keeping records of when you talked to each team member, the purpose of the call and the length. You can make this call from inside GO Data Hub so all the things I just mentioned will be done for you automatically.
Keeping track on inter-team communications is essential and it’s what makes you a professional project manager.
Meticulous Record Keeping
- Team Meetings
- One to One Team Communications
- Client Communications
- Case Communications
- Time Of Task
- Logs Of Tasks
- Incoming and Outgoing
- Team-member Logged Time
If you’re not using GO Data Hub then you’ll have to cobble these capabilities from different applications or solutions. You’ll also have to figure out a way to synchronize them in a pipeline.
The pipeline concept is very simple. It is discussed in great detail in our white paper on productivity.
Virtual teams introduce the logistics of remote work into the equation. Outside of technological details, which can be handled by something like GO Data Hub, the manager must consider the ‘human’ factor. As mentioned above, a good project manager is organized and keeps meticulous details. A GREAT project manager encourages and makes sure their team is organized and keeps meticulous details.
The pipeline aspect should also consider team member strengths and weaknesses of each team member. In a perfect worlds a project manager would assign each team member tasks that play to their strengths while avoiding their weakness. However, real life rarely plays out like that. Care must be taken then to keep an eye on weak links in the chain.
Weak Team Members and Bottlenecks
Bottlenecks usually break down into two categories: technical and human.
Most of the technical bottlenecks can be solved quite quickly with a solution like GO Data Hub. Having consulted thousands of businesses, one thing is clear: the majority of problems are caused by poor communication, record keeping and implementation of a system that doesn’t work – especially when considering virtual workers.
Technical bottlenecks are very frustrating for members of your team.
Human bottlenecks usually happen when a team member is not able to rise to the level required by the position. A project manager must assess each team member and where they stand in their capabilities.
Nobody is perfect but a team member that constantly drags down the team must be addressed by the manager.
Some of the this issues can be addressed by giving the team member more time to document themselves on what is needed in the organization. In other words they need more time to learn before they can participate in a project and complete the work.
If nothing works, then the project manager must make the decision of letting go of the team member.
Human bottlenecks are very demoralizing and can bring down the other team members that perform well.
Let’s take a quick look at how Global Office Data Hub can help with managing teams virtually.
Control Client Communication
GO Data Hub features robust information control. Whether it’s monitoring and logging communications in between your team members or with clients, you’re always covered. Communications records are the life-blood of any successful business.
When did the customer call? With what member of your team did he speak? What was discussed?
Too many customer relations are ruined beyond repair because the office drops the communication ball.
Think back to your own experiences of having to call an organization, speaking to different people and getting different answers. How frustrating is that?
When you’re working with virtual teams the problem is even more compounded.
But with Global Office Data Hub your business can look sharp, on the money and a pleasure to deal with. Increased customer satisfaction has other benefits too… RETURN BUSINESS.
Master Team Communication
Anyone that’s ever worked remotely understands the problem of team communication. Many times tasks fall between the cracks, clients get neglected and the wrong work gets done.
Implementation of the Global Office Data Hub system ensures that your organization functions like a well oiled machine no matter where each team member works from.
It also affords the manager an overview of the work done so they’re always on top of any situation.
Remote Task & Job Management
A clear and easy to use task management system ensures that your team can conduct and keep track of their work remotely.
Delegation is easy and everything is accounted for. This can save hundreds or thousands of dollars due to mismanaged projects, especially those that involve heavy reliance on remote work.
Setup your virtual team with documentation on procedures and other company policies. Save time and money by getting new team members up to speed fast, or provide a way for more experienced team members to verify their knowledge.
When working remotely, a properly setup documentation section pays off handsomely. Any colleague can check the docs at any time of the day or night.
These are just a few examples of how Global Office Data Hub can help your business stay competitive, grow and be more successful.
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We’ve looked at why good project management is especially important with virtual teams.
Some of the issues discussed can be solved by having a solid solution like GO Data Hub behind the team. Others require tough critical management decisions. Still others are solved through setting good examples, pipelines and working structures.
However, a great project manager will combine all these solutions and lead their team to success.