Remote Teams - Social Bonding Over Video Chat - 7 Ways To Better Manage A Virtual Team

Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

Ready to learn the best way to have fun and be productive in a remote team? Ok, ok, it is awkward being part of a virtual team suddenly when you’re not used to it. How do you keep up moral? Stick to deadlines as a team? Share vital information and work as a team? I’ve been part of a virtual team now for around 7 years and the biggest take away is to bond with your team members. Let me share a few ways you can do this to make the transition to being part of a virtual team awesome.

1. Turn on video.  We’ve all heard that body language is huge part of communication. Unfortunately voice chat alone is not enough to create relationships in a team like those that exist in an office. I often find that ideas and projects just can’t be communicated effectively without video face-to-face communication. This means you need a platform or 2 that doesn’t fail. I suggest Zoom, with Skype as your backup. Google Hangouts  is just ok, the paid version gsuite is a lot better. now called is fantastic. It really helps having one that can let you share your screen with sound as well as drop/share files and links.

2. Clocking In and Out - working from home has an awful stereotype of slacking off. Hence one feels really guilty about taking 15 min to go to the bathroom and make a cup of coffee. Doing this in the office would be fine, because your co-workers can see you arrived at work. However when you work from home, this is not so obvious. This is where WhatsApp-web comes in handy -  as your teams message board to let each other know when your internet is down or you will be away from your pc. An electricity brownout, a package delivery, a dog whose just had surgery and now needs meds twice a day are all perfectly fine reasons you can be away from your pc for 10-15 min. Just let your co-worker know so that you are not missing in action. On this same note, when you take your lunch and please do take a lunch break set your status to be right back.

3. Alternative ringer - setup your alternative ringer to your pc’s speaker. You don’t want to have to wear your headset all day. And yes get a headset. If you are home with the kids, the headset will focus in on your voice and not the television in the background that the kids are watching. Also if you happen to behind your printer, dealing with a paper-jam you will hear the skype ring. This way you will not miss any calls coming in. Status - you can change your status to no longer switch to idle if you are inactive on your keyboard, you might be working on a document etc. It has no right to decide if you are idle in my opinion. However you decide what is right for your situation.

4. Daily Morning Meetings - Start with Gratitude. 5 Items per person they can be personal or work related. This is always awkward for new people in the team. After 2 - 3 weeks, it’s completely natural and they are loving it. Every meeting or day then starts on a positive note, regardless of how much work we have or how badly a project is going. It also gives us insights into our co-workers lives and sparks lively conversations for the first 20-30 mins of the meeting. Our meetings run 30 - 60 mins.

5. Each person should list the tasks or projects they are working on and if they need help. Also list any impediments be it people, places, things or other projects etc.

6. Each Day of the week should have its own leader. Not the manager of the team. That way each team member participates in the meeting and has a feeling of belonging and ownership. So, in our team it will go something like this. We all enter the room. Chit chat is happening for a minute or 2, once we are all in the room usually on time. The day’s leader will start gratitude and either say “Leanne you start and pick someone” so we go around the group or he will pick each person. Then say ok, what is everyone working on, either calling on individuals or letting people call out. If someone hasn’t spoken, asking them how their week/day is and what they are working on?

7. Ending on a positive note: Affirmations. To end our meetings we all say an affirmation (that we’ve googled or found on Pinterest) in a round robin depending on what we would like to manifest/envision/plan/create for ourselves. Sometimes it’s for HR to make our payments on time, other times it’s for good health for our families. You get the drift. This bonds the team further.

Bonus: Friday Winners?  This is the question I ask on Friday. Did we have any winners? What went well this week? And here is where people get to tell us their achievements, goal gettings and organizational efficiency. I write it all down in that weeks Projects and Tasks Update Report. Which has all our Projects currently being worked on, What’s on hold and what’s next. Followed by the list of Projects broken down by tasks and hours spent. 2 More reports are sent out for Lead numbers. Make sure you can show what your people are doing, how they are winning and making the company money. Everyone should be influencing the bottom-line, and if they aren’t change their projects to ones that do.  The awful truth here is that shareholders often wont meet many of those who work remotely and these documents and records are very important when it comes to saving jobs.


Murasakii Bear said...

Working from home can be tough. Thank you for the tips

Jhenny054 said...

Great post during these times, we all need to fall and start running on that digital elevator. This blog helps very much, I usually feel like it is possible to do many 9-5 work remote but yet we need to learn to collaborate and be on the same page as everyone. Thank you for those tips! :-)