It's great that you want to build a strategy to manage a virtual team. You might also have questions on how to get started, how to grow your team or maybe you just want to know how to plan on working with remote employees. Regardless of your questions, the best thing to always start with is a strategy.
According to the 2017 State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Employee Workforce report:
- Regular telecommuting grew 115% in the past decade, nearly 10 times faster than the rest of the workforce.
- The average annual income for most telecommuters is $4,000 higher than that of non-telecommuters.
- The percent of women and men who telecommute is about equal.
- With this in mind, it's very important for business owners to think about incorporating a strategy to manage a virtual team.
How to create a strategy to manage a virtual team
In my blog post, “Top amazing solutions to your virtual team building questions”, I share some really great solutions that will answer some of your questions about how to manage a virtual team. The focus of this blog post is to provide you with 3 examples of strategies that you can be used.
Strategy 1: Workers who telecommute all the time
Having a team that telecommutes or works virtually all the time will require that you handle things differently than if you had a local team working with you in an office. Because they are virtually working for you 100% of the time, there are a few things to think about that will affect how you manage them.
Do you want them to track time? If so, do you want screenshots during the time tracking as a way to document what they are working on?
Do you want to offer perks to your workers like computer purchasing assistance?
Will you be using project management to control projects? If so, what software will you use to control it?
Will the team need to work specific hours in order to work on projects?
Do they need to be located in a specific country? If so, how will you assure that they are located where you need them to be?
These are a few questions that I have used when searching for my remote team members. My entire team is virtual and they are located either in the US or Canada. To manage my projects and clients, I use Basecamp. For time tracking, invoicing and payroll, I use Hubstaff. As far as specific hours, my team works flexible part-time hours during between 9a – 6p CT.
Strategy 2: Workers who telecommute and work in a local office
If your team has a local office as well as some workers who telecommute, then your requirements will be different than Strategy 1. Since your workers will be telecommuting part-time and working in the office the rest of time, you may have an additional expense for office space. A few additional things you may need to keep in mind…
- Will you require a specific amount of hours in the office?
- Will you allow shared job responsibilities between two workers?
- Do you provide equipment for your team to telecommute that will keep your business information secure?
- If you do provide equipment, will you have a computer use policy in place?
Although this type of strategy doesn't apply to my team, I feel that if you keep the following tips in mind that you can have a successful environment. According to an article on RobertHalf.com entitled, “5 Ways to Effectively Manage a Team of Telecommuters“, you should:
- Communicate expectations and goals
- Promote work-life balance
- Keep in daily contact, but avoid hovering
- Make time for face time
- Build morale and strengthen the team
- As you keep this in mind, I'm sure that you can build a successful team.
Strategy 3: a Local team in an office with remote office locations
In this unique teaming environment, you have to find a balance between telecommuting and remote local offices. Your inherent goal is to streamline processes and ensure that there is a solid communication plan in place. As you build this type of team, one of the most important things to do is to keep everyone connected from a distance.
According to an article on Forbes.com that's entitled, “Are Your Remote Workers Happy? How To Keep Teams Connected From Afar”,
Leverage emerging communication technologies to keep remote workers connected…The key is using tools that make coworkers feel like they’re next door, rather than across the state. Instant messaging, video conferencing and virtual hangouts are becoming more popular and can be equally effective for collaboration among teams. Video calls are an easy way to keep meetings face-to-face, even at a distance, and taking the extra step to equip your conference rooms will encourage teams to add face-to-face communication to meetings big and small.
One essential point made in this excerpt is that it is important to provide your team with a way to stay connected. For my team, we use the chatting function provided in Basecamp along with using BlueJeans for video meetings. We use video meetings for interviews, team meetings, and meeting with our clients.
BuildTeamz final tips
When planning out your telecommuting infrastructure, please keep in mind that people are important. Treating everyone the same regardless if they are local or not is very essential. A happy team makes a successful business grow. If you have any questions, please leave a comment. We will respond to all questions.