In the last couple of decades new terms such as “online work”, “digital nomads”, “virtual meetings” entered the lexicon. These terms have become even more common as more people move from brick-and-mortar office spaces and decide to work from home. Although working online has amazing benefits, it can be a nightmare for team leaders and managers to make sure all employees are up to speed and doing what is necessary. The fact is, virtual teams are a modern reality and is not going anywhere. Therefore, facilitating remote team unity becomes priority number one for many businesses. The following are some tips to help you achieve team unity in a virtual world.
After all, what is a remote team? It is a group of individuals working together with different skills and qualifications who are in different locations. It is important to clarify the tasks and processes at hand with remote teams as soon as you begin work. You cannot assume that people understand what their roles and goals are in a given project. This is because co-location is not a reality in a virtual environment, where people can talk to each other at will. The idea here is to be clear about who is responsible for what task and when they should complete it.
This may seem counter-intuitive, but it is never a bad idea for part or the whole team to physically meet each other once in a while. How many times the team should meet depends entirely on the team. Some companies will do a yearly or even bi-yearly meetings. In fact, before a new project starts, it’s a good idea to meet physically. Regardless of how good technology has become, there is no substitute for face to face meetings to get a “vibe” on people and the project at hand.
Agree on Communication Times & Methods
Proper communication between remote teams is one of the biggest challenges. Therefore, it is essential to be clear and disciplined about when to talk to each other. If you put together a set of rules and guidelines to follow, you can make matters a lot better. Rules such as when to contact people, talking clearly and as concisely as possible, and not talking over each other are imperative to avoid confusion and chaos when communicating. Other rules can include when to use text messages, emails, phone calls, and so on. However, there is a caveat to all this. When choosing communication technology, make sure to go with something that is “battle” proven. Do not get tempted by cutting edge unproven technology.
Time & Cultural Compatibility
Remote teams can be located not only in different time zones but in different countries as well. Dealing with different time zones may not be difficult, as long as there are only a few hours of difference. However, if a team member is located in a different country, you will need to brush up on that specific country's language and cultural practices. One way to lighten the burden is to be clear on words and phrases. Sometimes, the same language spoken in different parts of the world will have its peculiarities and meanings.
Still on the Fence?
The fact is, remote teams are here to stay, therefore if you are still skeptical regarding this trend, now is the time to consider it seriously. More and more people prefer remote employment. Businesses that allow their employees to work from home are starting to attract the best employees.