Virtual teams can take a number of forms:
- Field Sales Teams: team members travel around customer sites, occasionally coming into the office for team meetings and company updates
- Global Teams: a VP or CXO may manage Directors or Managers in multiple offices or countries.
- Cross-Functional Teams: a team may be brought together for a project and consist of many functions that don't naturally work or sit with each other.
- Multi-Shift Teams: a manager may support team members that come in at different times or days.
|Don't leave remote workers feeling lost at sea.|
- A birthday card from a colleague
- A smile because of a job well done
- A thank-you from another member of the team
- A blocked nose and fever
A manager can quickly pick up on these signals and deliver some personal support of their own. But for team members that work remotely these signals don't exist and through no fault of their own a manager might pass one week, two weeks, a month without a decent conversation with a team member.
How many times have you said, "we really should arrange a 1-2-1. How long has it been? As long as that?!"
Whilst it can be more difficult managing a virtual team there are some ways of helping yourself. Simple suggestions might include:
- A Facebook or LinkedIn group to enable collaboration between your team members
- Chatter or Yammer or any other Enterprise Social Network
- A team blog on Wordpress or Blogger
- A Social Leadership application like Kebuki
- Buddying up remote team members with office based team members.
- Google Hangouts or GoToMeetings to see as well as speak to your team members
- "A day in the life" - work from your team member's home or remote office
This last suggestion is an important one, as often the only time you work closely with a remote team member is when they come in to the office. By going to work at their home or remote office you can get a real sense of their environment and how their day runs. This will prove invaluable in times when you aren't together and you need to imagine what they are doing and how they are feeling.
What other ideas do you have for supporting virtual teams? Have you other examples of virtual teams that we haven't listed? Do you experience higher turnover in your virtual teams than office based teams? We'd love you to share your stories with the Kebuki community.