A virtual team or remote team is made up of people placed in different geographical locations that work for a common goal. Remote work has provided employees with the flexibility to manage their time and keep a balance between work and a healthy life. It also provides companies with advantages such as:
- Operating costs reduction.
- More productivity due to orientation on goals, not on office hours.
- Motivated employees.
- Capacity to handle 24-hour shifts using workers in various time zones.
- More access to qualified personnel as it is not limited to local availability.
This way of working is becoming more common these days, and it helps companies expand geographically, allowing remote employees to work from home, co-working spaces or from basically any place with internet access. Remote work also presents challenges associated with the fact that team members are not working face-to-face. Trust, leadership, planning, and excellent communication are fundamental to operating as a successful virtual team.
At Toky, we know about the challenges of working with people in several countries, and we want to share some tips that can help you improve the collaboration of your virtual teams and make them more successful.
Build a good team
Your team will work better if you have the right people for each task. The construction of your team should consider the following:
- Hire the right people: You must learn to perform remote hiring processes, based on phone interviews, assessment of knowledge based on experience and abilities to integrate with a remote team. In addition to the technical skills required for their work, each remote employee must have excellent communication skills, so they must be able to transmit their ideas verbally or in writing.
- Take care of the size of your remote team: Although you can have as many remote employees as you want, it is crucial not to have more than you can manage efficiently. When you require numerous remote workers, try to create distributed teams or define a management model that allows for tracking all groups regularly.
- Assign roles and responsibilities: All your employees should clearly understand their responsibilities and goals, the makeup of their team, and what people can help them with their work.
- Teach each new member: You should define work guidelines and make sure that each new member knows how to fulfill their responsibilities, achieve goals, and which communication channels and tech tools to use for their work.
Encourage great communication
Communication is vital for your team to operate correctly, so you must not only choose the right tools but also define the recommended use for each one. This will help ensure the productivity of your team. Each member in a remote team must get used to asynchronous communication, where you can make a question today and receive a response hours later, due to aspects such as the time zone difference. They must also learn to check the local time of their collaborators before contacting them. Some main communication tools and their uses are:
- Chat: This channel is excellent for communication and collaboration in real time for all team members. There are many tools, but we use Slack as the primary communication channel between all of our teams. We define channels for each group, besides the general channels; this helps to segment conversations. We even integrate Slack with Toky so that the sales team is alert about the inbound calls from customers.
- Virtual phone system: Phone calls should be the main channel to discuss important decisions or when sharing information that may require a deeper explanation, as this is sometimes hard to do by chat. In our case, each team communicates using Toky when we know that talking can be more efficient than writing. Virtual phone systems provide great features to allow virtual teams to work and communicate as if they were located in the same place.
- Email: Email is the most traditional channel and is most suited for sending corporate communications or to assign tasks with detailed information and attached files. It is also the main contact channel with our partners and customers.
- Tasks assignment: You must ensure that each member of your team knows what to do, set deadlines, integrate teams, and follow up. A precise and explicit assignment of tasks and goals is important so that all communication flows right. For that, you can rely on tools such as Jira or Asana.
It would be best if you always encourage excellent, transparent, open, and respectful communication with your team. Additionally, set clear channel purposes to avoid a chaos of crossed messages that not only cause confusion, but also reduce productivity.
Leadership, remote but always present
Leadership is usually associated with the leading position of any business, but it is necessary to keep in mind that the company’s vision must be represented in clear goals that are achieved through the activities carried out by work teams with defined leaders. The hierarchy and assignment of responsibilities are necessary so that people distributed in different countries can work as a team, almost as if they were sitting side by side. Every team leader has to ensure clarity in the goals, dates, and the purpose of what each person does. Each team member must know in whom to support themselves to work on doubts or solve a problem.
Distributed team leaders must regularly monitor the execution of activities to ensure the synchronization of all members. You should avoid going into too much detail since micromanagement in remote teams can reduce productivity, besides being complicated and time-consuming.
Collaboration and automation tools
In addition to communication tools, you must select business applications that not only enable everyone to carry out their tasks and projects from wherever they are but also help them to collaborate and share knowledge and information. Some useful tools are:
- CRM Software: This software allows everyone in the organization to have centralized management of customers' information, furthermore the tracking of each of your sales processes. When you have customers' data in one place, you avoid problems in customer service and allow your sales and marketing teams to collaborate better. These CRMs offer a large number of integrations with other business tools that enhance sales and marketing processes.
- Task management: When you use tools that allow the creation of projects and tasks assignments, such as Asana or Trello, you can learn what your team members are doing, measure how busy they are and detect problems that can be solved with some extra support.
- Documentation: Building a good knowledge base is essential to improve productivity and collaboration. Each member must have a channel to share tutorials, guides, tricks and everything that enriches the team’s work and improves their productivity; you can have not only specific documentation of your product or service but also internal procedures and troubleshooting.
- Integrations and automation: You should avoid having business software disconnected from the rest; try to find those that can easily integrate with each other and also lean on automation tools such as Zapier that will help you connect from business applications to other services, such as your phone system.
Excellent communication, clear goals, and confidence are the core basics for remote teams to achieve that balance between flexibility and productivity.
Toky's virtual phone system is used by remote teams around the world, and it improves not only their collaboration but also the communication with their customers. Try Toky for free.