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Managing virtual teams

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John Sherman
2017-07-23

Virtual teams are the talk of the town right now - and with good reason! This very modern mode or working takes collaboration and turbocharges it – giving you the opportunity to spread your team across continents, time zones, and cultures.

Virtual teams are changing the game as we speak. These people don’t work in the office, they work wherever they want. From mountain tops in Colorado to beachfront properties in San Diego, as long as there’s internet then the team is good to go.

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This is all made possible to the internet - the lifeline of the modern virtual team. It’s their route to communication which they can do through email, collaboration platforms like Slack, WhatsApp and others.

And while this utopian vision sounds all well and good, the reality is a little more complex. That’s where good management steps in. To make sure people are working, hitting deadlines, and communicating well with others, a virtual team manager is essential.

That’s what this course is for.

So how can good management benefit a virtual team?

  • Team Focus – When the virtual team is distributed across a country or the globe, making sure everyone is on track is a tricky task. Good virtual managers can keep a tab on each individual to make sure they’re working towards the same end.
  • Improved Communication – As virtual teams aren’t in the same room there can be communication problems, leading to ineffective working and frustration. Management can remedy this.
  • Lack of Commitment – One problem with virtual working is that sometimes individuals don’t feel fully engaged and therefore fully committed to the team and its goals. A good team manager knows how to make everyone feel valued.

The course

The course delves into the workings of a virtual team from every angle and is arranged by sections.

Here we’ll look at each of them:

Find Out More – The first section primarily discusses the pros and cons of virtual teams and explains why it is that more and more companies are using this versatile style of team working.

The major benefit of the virtual team is the great savings that can be had if there isn’t an office building to pay for. The physical workplace is a huge overhead that most companies are glad to get rid of.

Another factor is that virtual teams make hiring better staff easier because a company is no longer constricted to only one city.

Virtual team members are also often happier than their office-based contemporaries.

But it isn’t all rainbows. Virtual teams often fall short of their goals – 82% in a recent survey – and over one third said they were “largely ineffective”.

The remedy to these problems are the five key stages that will be discussed in the rest of the course. Let’s get cracking!

Preparations – As always, the key to success is in the preparation.

No two teams are the same nor are the conditions they’re working under. They must be run to different costs and they’ll have different flexibility requirements too. As well as this, the individuals making up the team will be different and so the dynamic is bound to change.

What size team should you have? How should you structure the team for this particular goal? Which types of technology should they use?

The checklist that this section suggests will make sure you’re fully prepared with a system that offers the best care to the team and chance of success. Go get ‘em, tiger!

Launch – This is the moment you’ve been working towards. It’s the big day; you’re about the launch the virtual team!

But take a few breathes; there are some things to consider.

If individuals live within distance, you could have a meeting so everybody knows one another. Or a video conference if that isn’t possible. This way people feel a connection and are more likely to feel part of it all.

Run over the team goals and ways of working. Make sure everyone knows their roles and answer any questions. All this will save a lot of time later.

PerformanceOnce everything is swimming along nicely, there will be adaptions to be made.

Could you offer some self-management to team individuals? Are individuals doing what they should be? Are they communicating?

In this section you’ll learn to look out for performance problems and learn how to solve them.

Team Development – Just because virtual team members aren’t sat in the same office space as you doesn’t mean they don’t need training and development.

Not everyone will know their way around new technologies and perhaps some people need to work on their communication.

Team Disbanding – Saying goodbye isn’t easy, so why do it? When a project is over, make sure you manage the team breakup to keep everyone motived and happy, and willing to work for the next project you have.

And after all that, there’s a quiz to do!

Why managing virtual teams matters

If a virtual team isn’t managed well, then all the benefits it can offer – lower costs, a larger pool of talent, increased flexibility - can be lost.

This teaches what you need to know to take advantage of these incredible benefits and make sure your experience, and that of the team, is a more fruitful, enjoyable, and ultimately productive venture.

Enjoy!

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