Remember when virtual teaming was used only for teams with members in different geographic locations? Times have changed fast and how! With work-from-home becoming the new normal and an increasing number of employees preferring flexible work environments, virtual teams have become a sweeping reality. And they’re not going anywhere.
As a team leader and manager, this means you now have the added responsibility of nurturing engagement and inter-team connections in a majorly digital setting. And without the right technology and platforms, it is impossible to cultivate a productive and well-connected virtual team. Especially with rising stress levels of employees and the lack of physical interactions to help them cope with these stressors better.
Regardless of whether your organization has gone 100% remote or if you’ve got a hybrid work setting, you must have noticed that your employees have lesser social interactions than before. According to a study by Clutch, 63% of employees spent less time socializing with their colleagues during Covid-19. And while to some this might mean a higher share of time spent by them on work, it can actually have severe impacts on team performance.
With reduced interactions that are personal and go beyond the general work talk, employees find it difficult to relate, connect, and form a bond with one another. Leading to loss of trust and synergy between team members. And considering 62% of employees prefer working remotely, it’s up to leaders and organizations to create virtual work environments that help sustain employee engagement and feelings of connection, both in the present and in the future.
How? Here are some steps that you can consider implementing at your organization:
Communicate with purpose in mind
While we can all agree face-to-face communications are best in conveying messages, they are way overdone. All of us have spent most of our remote working days jumping in and out of calls. This is reflected in the fact that 45% of employees surveyed by Twingate said that they had attended more meetings during the pandemic than before. So much so that 40% of the employees felt mentally exhausted because of video calls while working remotely!
This number clearly suggests that in order to have effective communication with teams while working remotely, the purpose behind the communication needs to be kept in mind. Without any solid purpose, the meeting itself can be a detriment to the team bonding experience.
What’s more? You must have a communication strategy in place. One that accounts for mediums and channels to be used for specific communications. Platforms to be used for regular interactions and team bonding experiences. Separate meeting and chat tools, etc. All of which help build a virtual environment that facilitates the free flow of information and a great bonding experience for all employee groups.
Make collaboration easy
This is an all too obvious one. According to a Harvard Business Review study (2016), the time spent on collaborative activities has increased by 50% over the last two decades. And seeing how cross-team collaboration is increasingly dictating the success of projects across industries, this needs to be a focus area for all remote team managers.
Where communication is the foundation of virtual teaming, project management and effective collaboration are the pillars that lead to its success.
What does this mean? Managers need to clearly lay out goals, roles, tasks, and processes. To better guide their team members as they undertake their responsibilities. And make use of project management platforms and collaboration tools that help keep work streamlined while allowing joint effort on the employees’ end. Thereby raising ownership of work, accountability, collaboration, and productivity.
Engage employees through gamification
Gamification is key in virtual teaming scenarios. With remote working having the most negative impact on employee engagement and satisfaction levels, gamification helps convert daily work and mundane virtual meetings and events into fun activities:
- By providing rewards for completed tasks, gamification platforms help increase recognition and bolster engagement and productivity levels among employees.
- During events and meetings, not only does gamification bring in an element of fun, but also makes learning and discussions more involved and interesting.
- Gamification also further encourages employees to work together. And understand how combined effort can help improve results instead of working individually/ competing with one another.
While there are many more steps that can help you build successful virtual teams, these three are integral to engaging people virtually and creating emotional connections despite physical distances and boundaries.
Today, it’s important for organizations to give high consideration to virtual teaming. And capitalize on this opportunity to create digital environments that will go a long way in solidifying their identity as an ‘employer of choice’. Furthering employee loyalty and advocacy in the organization.
Feel free to reach out to us if you need any help with the processes and platforms required for excellent virtual teaming.
Let us know in the comments below what other steps you think are necessary when building successful virtual teams.