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Businesses are quickly discovering the benefits of virtual teams–that is, teams where nearly every member works from a remote location. These teams reduce cost, create a much bigger pool of potential applicants and allot for a flexibility that’s difficult to find elsewhere. Additionally, virtual teams come in many shapes and sizes.

In many cases, there is never a definitive office location, as many team members move and live around the world. This non-traditional environment brings with it its own set of challenges, and managing a team in such an environment requires a specific procedural understanding that differs from what is espoused in a normal office environment. From the importance of video calls to using a project management tool, here are some tips for successfully managing a virtual team.

Routine Meetings Are a Must

Make sure that all coordinated meetings and conference calls occur around the same time on the same days. This will ensure that the team becomes familiar with the workflow and approaches their work more meaningfully and with less stress. One great way to achieve a routine meetings goal is through video chat, which is also a great way to get to know your remote employee on a more personal level. And speaking of video calls…

Video Calls Are Important

Emails and chat rooms can create more misunderstandings than they can prevent, and a virtual atmosphere can transform a simple message into a catastrophic game of telephone. Video calls are great for virtual teams because they minimize opportunities for potential misunderstandings and allow for a more personal connection between team members. As mentioned in the previous point, make sure video calls occur at a time that works for everyone—the last thing you want to do is accidentally video call a remote employee in the middle of the night.

Project Management Tools Are Essential

Project management tools are essential for effective office functionality, particularly in remote workplaces. One use is monitoring upcoming deadlines, another is sending reminders of essential tasks to the team members those tasks have been designated to and yet another use is to track time to ensure that each remote employee is using theirs wisely.

Collaboration is Key

Since many teams include stakeholders outside the company, such as vendors and executive teams, having an efficient way to collaborate is key. In a day and age where the concept of workplace collaboration, both within the enterprise and with clients, is growing in popularity, companies and project managers should be able to share what is relevant while protecting intellectual property. This is where Clarizen comes into play—whether you’re collaborating with customers or an off-site vendor, Clarizen makes it easy to only share what’s necessary when collaborating.

Have Clear Goals and Defined Work Systems

With so many different people, things can easily get messed up. This is why it’s important to have clear goals with defined parameters. By setting and maintaining these standards, teams will become more conditioned to complete tasks within a designated timeframe. Make sure that once you settle on a system that you standardize it, as this will encourage productivity. Additionally, you will want to ensure that the system is customized to the needs of your virtual employees, as they are the ones who will be interfacing with it on a daily basis.

Ensure Professionalism

Ensure that your virtual workspace is free from distractions and require employees to wear appropriate attire–no working from home in your PJs! These standards will contribute to a culture of professionalism and efficiency and will make it easy for your team members to snap into the appropriate mindset.

Overlapping Hours

Odds are you will have a few different team members stationed in different time zones. Regardless of this, you will want to ensure that there are at least three hours in the schedule where everyone is present at the same time. This will assist with team bonding, encourage them to work together and likely teach them some things they did not already know about various aspects of their daily tasks.