The advent of the 2020 COVID-19 global pandemic brought the pressing need for businesses to move to a virtual team. As a result of this, every day since 2020, tons of individuals and companies have resorted to working remotely. While it's true that many businesses have been operating a hybrid system of physical and virtual teams from the onset, the compulsory tradition was challenging for a lot of companies. It is relatively easier for employees to adjust to working from home than employers and managers who are left with the challenge of effectively managing a virtual team and ensuring that all work is done diligently.
Below are Some of the Challenges with Managing Virtual Teams:
1. Lack of Proper Communication: Proper communication is essential for a virtual team. Managing a virtual team depends solely on using the suitable means of communication and having effective communication. There's a challenge with this, and it causes a significant problem for the virtual team and its productivity.
2. Social Isolation: Many employees miss the informal conversations with their colleagues. These little conversations create a sense of belonging to the company, and their absence can affect an employee's morale.
3. Distractions at Home: Working can be highly challenging as your employees will have to deal with frequent distractions. Such distraction could be from their family or general surroundings. This can cause a remarkable decline in such employees' productivity as they won't be focused on delivering their work when due. A great way to curb this is through employee monitoring if done right.
4. No Sense of Urgency: Employees tend not to have a sense of urgency while working from home. Most times, this is due to not being physically present at work with a deadline and reminder of an approaching closing time by which they must have turned in their work. A lot of businesses, while working remotely, don't specify work hours and close time. This has adverse effects on your virtual team as there's no feeling of office presence and no sense of urgency.
5. Lack of Information: If information isn't adequately communicated to every member of a virtual team, it could lead to poor productivity from the group. Every member should be readily accessible always, and every critical information should be sent out to everyone early.
6. Lack of Face-to-Face Supervision and Support: Many employees' productivity dwells on constant supervision and support. In a physical setting, it's very easy for your employee to reach out to one another or a superior on how to go about doing their work. The absence of this while working remotely significantly affects a team's productivity.
“Everyone knows that not all change is good or even necessary, but in a world that is constantly changing, it is to our advantage to learn how to adapt and enjoy something better."
The quote above by Kenneth H. Blanchard highlights the need to constantly find ways to embrace and adapt to something better, especially in this situation where it has become our lived reality. Employees need to understand that managing a physical team isn't the same way you manage a virtual team, which is captured in this tweet quoting Darren Murph. Having highlighted some of the biggest challenges with maintaining virtual teams, below is a guide to managing your virtual teams.
How to manage your virtual teams?
1. Set Clear Tasks with Deadlines:
Settling clearly defined tasks with deadlines is a great way to encourage effective work and productivity. This way, employees know exactly what to do and within what timeframe to do it. Deadlines give you a sense of urgency, and this acts as a constant reminder for employees that even though they are working remotely, they still need to get work done.
2. Have Proper Communication:
Honestly, having proper communication with your virtual team contributes to effective management and great productivity. As a manager, you have to exhaust all communication tools ranging from messages to video calls, voice calls, and even emails. The best technology services should be used to achieve the goal of proper communication. It is advised that you establish multiple communication tools. You and your virtual team should have a decision as to which device is used for what. This helps unify the communication process as each member knows what tool to use when you need to reach a member urgently for something.
3. Schedule Regular Meetings:
Regular meetings give a familiar vibe to your virtual team. Schedule appointments at the same time on the same day and create a routine. This provides your virtual team with the feeling of a physical workplace. Regular meetings can be done using video calls (preferably), just as physical sessions would hold in the office. This provides an excellent opportunity to have conversations on work being done, hold briefings and pass important information.
4. Create a "Virtual Water Cooler":
Virtual teams may often miss human interaction and contact. This is especially with regards to companies that have to transition from the physical workplace to virtual teams. In a bid to remedy this, time for informal conversations and online hangouts should be encouraged. To borrow the words of David Rabin, ""There is nothing more important in a group remote job than casual communication. Not official emails and work updates, but the ability to sit back and chat.""
5. Treat Time Zones Fairly:
In a case where the virtual team is made up of people in a different time zone, it is essential to create flexible and accommodating work schedules bearing in mind the difference in these time zones. A suggestion would be to create schedules that work like shifts, employees of a time zone taking over from the others.
6. Make Work Hours' Overlap:
While recognizing the need for flexibility of employee schedules because of the possibility of different time zones, it is advised that most team members are online and working at the same time for about three hours a day. This helps bring the virtual team together.
7. Make Use of Project Management Tools:
Project management tools help organize project activities into one unified space that is easily assessable to everyone on the virtual team. This keeps employees on the same page and makes it easier to work together without anyone lagging.
8. Employee Time Tracking:
Time tracking is very important for running a business. Time tracking is tracking employees' time in hours to get the exact time employees to work for. Time tracking provides remote teams with an essential structure, visibility, and transparency.
Although time tracking can be done manually, it is easily and effectively done via time tracking software. A good time tracking software has amazing features that are of great help to your virtual team. Some of the benefits of time tracking are:
1. Firstly, time tracking creates an accurate record for your business time: With the right time tracking software, you can document all employee hours, giving you a picture of how your business spends all this time. The information down to meetings attended and emails sent can be found out from proper time tracking.
2. Time tracking is a major way of managing a virtual team as it eliminates the problem of bad time management: Proper time management is essential for every business that targets great productivity. Being busy doesn't exactly translate to being productive. With time tracking, you can see how much time it takes to finish a task and how to adjust your time to improve how many tasks you do and, ultimately, your productivity.
3. A great benefit is that time tracking allows you to record the accurate amount of hours spent working. You can pay employees for the exact amount of hours of work done. Time tracking also helps keeps the status of a task; hence with one glance, employees can see the time taken to complete their tasks and how they are faring in that aspect.
4. Time tracking with payrolls: Being able to tell how much hours are spent working accurately is a great benefit to a business owner. With Time Tracking, you can now pay employees for the exact number of hours worked.
5. Time tracking helps Bill clients accurately: Just as time tracking keeping a record of hours spent is beneficial to pay employees, it is also beneficial in accurately billing clients. This is because you can accurately tell the time employees spend working for a client to bill such a client for the number of hours out into work.
9. Make Use of Employee Monitoring Tools:
A major concern of employers with a virtual team is that they cannot be sure employees will work during work hours since they are at the comfort of their home with no one to supervise them physically. Hence, the need for employee monitoring has become more profound. Proper employee monitoring makes you rest assured that your virtual team is being productive. The concept of employee monitoring is explored below.
What Exactly is Employee Monitoring?
As the name suggests, employee monitoring refers to techniques an employer or manager uses to monitor employees during working hours. This is in a bid to ensure that work is being done during work hours and to improve productivity. Employee monitoring ensures that every member of your virtual team meets their target without any hassle. The main aim of employee monitoring is to increase productivity and ensure employees are doing their job.
Jimmy Rodela, in his article '8 Compelling reasons why employers should track their employees', noted that employees tend to be more conscious of how they spend their time once they know that their activities are being monitored. To simply put, it means Employee monitoring via time tracking can assure you of your virtual team being more focused and productive than they would be without supervision.
There are several ways by which employee monitoring can be carried out. Employee monitoring includes tracking computer activity, emails, time tracking to see how much time is spent on work, etc. The best way to effectively perform remote employee monitoring is to make use of employee monitoring software.
Employee monitoring software usually contains several valuable tools: One such tool is a time tracker for time tracking. The benefit of time tracking has been explored above, and one can see how useful it can be for employee monitoring. You can see how much time is actually spent working and how many breaks are taken by your employee.
Another tool an employee monitoring software has is project management tools. Projects are broken into smaller bits and assigned to employees so as to aid productivity. Afterward, through time tracking, you can see how much time each employee used to achieve their goal.
Employee monitoring also involves monitoring apps and websites used by your employees during work hours and analyzing how they add to productivity.
When getting involved in employee monitoring, it is important to make sure that whatever Employee monitoring software you are using is legal and doesn't exactly violate your employees' privacy. If employee monitoring should be justified on the basis that it is necessary to enforce the organizations' rules and standards, it should be known and understood by workers.
The importance of employee monitoring shouldn't overshadow the need for privacy, hence it's best every business owner explains and seeks employees' consent to be monitored.
Virtual Go is a Necessity Now!
While it might not be easy to easily transition to virtual teams, it is necessary as remote working is a concept that has come to stay in our society. Hence, every company needs to find ways to adjust and effectively manage its employees while they work from home. Amongst other tips on how to do so, the concepts of Time tracking and employee monitoring are explored in detail due to how essential they are to manage a virtual team. This guide will put you on the right part with managing your virtual team and ensure you yield productive results at the end of the day.