Team Management and Building Virtual Teams Like the Pros

The 8 Cs of managing a virtual team:

Today’s labor force has trended toward a remote workforce – which can include a combination of freelance talent, consultants, vendors, contractors, telecommuting employees or other project teams. According to Forrester Research, an estimated 24 million Americans work from home, and it anticipates this number will reach 63 million (or 43% of the U.S. workforce) by 2016.

School Of Open Workshop WMDE / Elly Köpf / CC BY-SA

Types of Remote Workers:
Virtual workers can include any of the following type of individuals or teams:

  • Virtual administrative assistants (VAs)
  • Outside Sales staff
  • Marketing or PR agencies/consultants
  • Freelance graphic designers / web designers
  • Freelance writers / ghost writers / editors
  • Web development firms
  • Event planners
  • Customer support staff
  • Vacationing / staff
  • Sick team members working from home
  • Temporary staff
  • Seasonal staff

While hiring virtual teams has its advantages, such as savings on office space, team flexibility, greater productivity and a larger talent pool, it also comes with the challenge of successfully managing these teams, which are often geographically dispersed.

The 8 Cs of managing a virtual team
Hubstaff has covered the topic of remote team management extensively on our blog. So how can a company use and manage its virtual teams effectively? We’ve created the 8 Cs of managing a virtual team – which includes recommendations on how to set up and manage your remote workforce, while integrating this team into your current operation.

  1. Chart a Course: Since your remote team members will not be on site or work alongside your current employees, you need to make sure that you clearly spell out your goals, expectations and methods they should follow. Clearly documenting the position with a job description/overview, along with guidelines and steps to any processes will eliminate any confusion and make the remote worker more efficient.
  2. Connect: Make sure your virtual team is set up with the proper technology, as well as easy access to your company network, documents or other tools needed to get the job done. You’ll also need to set up a few convenient methods of communicating with your remote teams on a regular basis, such as via Skype, Google chat or GoToMeeting for chat and video conferencing. This allows the manager and the team members to have questions answered, catch up on a project, or facilitate discussions between other team members.
  3. Collaborate: Use cloud-based project and task management software such as BaseCamp, Capterra, Trello, Asana or Pivotal Tracker. Even applications such as Google Drive can help your company share information between employees and virtual teams. This will allow your teams to document conversations, maintain updated records and improve communication and organization. It also helps your management team better control your projects, schedule and delegate tasks, and improve teamwork.
  4. Capture Activities: Using time-tracking software such as Hubstaff allows you to keep tabs on remote workers, while giving managers visibility into how much time their team members spend on a particular project. Time tracking software can help remote workers organize multiple projects, as well as provide a visible timeline to keep project costs and deadlines in check. For managers concerned about team member effectiveness, these time tracking applications even include screen capture technology to ensure that an employee is on task.
  5. Consider Cultures: Remote teams often have individuals working in different time zones or times of day, as well as with different work-life priorities and demands. One of the benefits of remote team-building is the life flexibility it provides your employees and contractors. Always consider the individual team members’ needs when scheduling a meeting, creating deadlines or defining priorities. This will go a long way toward establishing goodwill between managers and remote teams.
  6. Convey Confidence: Once they have hired a remote team, managers need to have a certain level of trust in their remote workers that they will get the job done with minimal hand-holding (assuming the manager defined responsibilities, set expectations and provides ongoing feedback). This will give remote team members the self-assurance they need to remain productive and satisfied, while freeing up the management team to focus on what they do best. Also, don’t forget to compliment and praise your virtual team members when they deserve it.
  7. Customize and Change: Each virtual workforce and team is different. A method or application that might work well for one company may be ineffective for another company. It’s important for companies to evaluate their overall processes and communication methods to ensure they are the best fit for all virtual team members. In addition, if a remote team member isn’t working out, the company should not be afraid to adjust or even find a replacement for that team member.
  8. Create some Competition: Keep your virtual teams contributing effectively with a little friendly competition among team members. Whether you offer incentives to sales people for meeting sales goals, or motivate employees toward meeting a company-wide goal, some competition may help boost productivity or results. However, keep in mind that companies can overuse this method, and that these types of incentives can overshadow the intrinsic satisfaction that comes from enjoying work that one loves.

Whether you allow your current employees to telecommute, hire contract workers for a few projects, or manage a large team of remote employees and contractors, following some of the advice above will ensure that you maintain a successful working environment and that your remote team gets the most out of the entire experience.

Get access to Awesome Contractors that Work on an Hourly Basis.

The fastest, easiest way to start building your next project.