Then, in the early 20th century, the availability of electricity and public transport attracted workers to offices. But after the corona pandemic emerged and in line with safety measures and to reduce the spread of the epidemic, everything returned to normal, employees returned to work at home, companies operated remotely and managed a virtual team.
Even before the epidemic spread in 2020, telework was growing significantly, with significant benefits for both companies and employees. But excessive growth in telework portends that this is the future and that most companies will be hypothetical.
But before we talk about anything about remote work, how to manage a virtual team to achieve greater productivity, and the challenges managers face in guiding a virtual team. Let's mention some of the benefits of remote work for companies and individuals at quick points, if you don't know any of them:
- Remote work increases productivity because you pay employees for their productivity and not for hours spent. Studies have shown that employees are more productive when working at home than in offices and improve their performance and productivity by 13%.
- You can work with the most skilled employees no matter where they stay, and geographical boundaries won't be an obstacle to looking for talent and acquiring talent.
- Remote work helps you overcome the causes and problems that may cause employees to leave the company, such as: after the workplace from the place of residence of some employees.
- Remote work improves the quality of work because employees are healthier both psychologically and physically. Studies also suggest that flexibility at work is beneficial to the brain, leading to more creativity at work.
- Save a lot of costs, such as: rental costs, office processing and the Internet. And other service costs associated with workplaces.
- Balancing work and social life.
- Flexibility at work, you can work from where you love while you love, and in the atmosphere you love.
- Save a lot of lost time transporting and moving to and from the workplace.
- Enjoying better health, research has shown that the longer an employee spends working, the greater the chances of developing diseases such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, back and neck pain and depression. A study of more than 19,000 employees at nine different companies — carried out by The Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College — showed that stress and fatigue were lower for remotely employed employees.
Despite the many benefits we have mentioned for remote work, there are many challenges facing managers who run a virtual team. As:
Differences in timing differences from country to country
If you work directly from the office with employees_ or even work with a team that all of its members live in the same country _ it will be easy for you to hold meetings with team members at any time you want.
Unlike working with a virtual team of different countries, it won't be easy for you to choose the right times to meet with team members, because one morning can be another evening because the time differences vary from country to country.
Cooperation and coordination of work on projects
One of the challenges that will meet you as a virtual team manager is to collaborate and coordinate project work among team members, because any mistake will create confusion among team members and lead to poor productivity and thus disrupt the workflow. As we mentioned earlier, if you are working with a traditional team (directly) it will be easy for you to hold meetings when an error occurs and to communicate with team members face to face to find solutions to the problem immediately, but in the case of the virtual team you have to make a double effort to coordinate with each other.
The most important thing that distinguishes the virtual team is the difference of cultures among them as a result of their different countries and therefore different values and visions for each of them, as well as different work ethics. But many managers don't pay attention to this and lack a deep understanding of how to manage cultural differences, so if you want to manage a virtual team, you have to take it into account.
One of the biggest concerns of virtual task force managers is the lack of direct control and follow-up, whether employees are doing their job or not and are they committed to carrying out tasks on time?! Other questions raise doubts and concerns about the feasibility of remote work. Virtual team management therefore requires a rigorous approach to follow-up on what employees do constantly.
Knowing some of the challenges facing virtual team managers, here are some tips that will help you address the challenges you will face in managing the team, and will help you increase productivity and increase team efficiency.
Put yourself in the right people.
Remote work is not for all people, there are people who shine when they work in offices and get depressed and poor productivity when they work from home and others increase their productivity and creativity when they work more freely. So when you create a virtual team, you have to choose the right people to adapt to these exceptional working conditions. Virtual team members need exceptional communication skills, the ability to work independently, as well as technical capabilities.
Choose the right technological tools
If your team members work at different times and in different places, you need to make sure that work-related information is available to everyone in order to maintain team productivity,
Participatory work tools must therefore be used.
There are a large number of remote work tools on the market, from Google and Microsoft tools to Slack, Zoom and Skype. There are applications for time management, document sharing, project management, human resources and meeting schedules. The list goes on.
It's important to remember that these tools are just tools to enable work, and if your team is having difficulty using one, you should find a suitable alternative immediately. Because once you have the technological balance, communication and workflow between your virtual team members will be smooth and productive.
Strengthening team ties
Virtual teams need the same things traditional teams do to perform well, including encouragement, appreciation and reward. A team that builds trust, mitigates conflict, encourages communication between its members and increases cooperation among them has an increased chance of success. But how can you do that and your team doesn't meet each other?!
You can set quarterly meetings where team members all gather together and share a week-long office to get to know each other more, or surprise them with gifts at public events that will make them more happy and excited to work. You can also arrange some outdoor activities that team members can share together and strengthen ties, such as camping activities in remote areas or going on leisure trips and you can do it once or twice a year… and other different ideas.
I assure you that all of this will increase the morale of the team and strengthen the ties between them and therefore will return to your company with increased productivity and quality.
Be firm, but flexible.
One of the main advantages of working with a virtual team is flexibility, and just as it is important to maintain a flexible working environment, be sure to do the work.
Creating basic working hours along with scheduling tasks assigned to each team member can increase productivity.
The main working hours are intended to anticipate responses when team members communicate with each other, even across different time zones. Assigned tasks allow individual flexibility in time management.
Stay away from detailed management
Micromanagement or micromanagement is "a way of managing the work through which managers intervene in all details of the work accurately, and it also means excessive attention by the manager to the functions and control of the staff, and this type of manager does not delegate decisions to their employees. They therefore control decisions of any size.
This type of management weakens staff capacity, undermines self-confidence and reduces their overall productivity, resulting in poor team morale, an atmosphere of mistrust and a limit on the growth of the team.
So you have to feel that your team members trust them and their decisions as long as they don't hurt the work and let them work the way they do as long as they do the work they want, but also you shouldn't be lenient on things like commitment to work delivery times, work quality and productivity so you don't get out of hand. As we mentioned earlier, be firm but flexible.
In traditional teams most of the time, one of the criteria for evaluating employees' performance is the number of hours they have worked, but this standard will not work with a virtual team _not working before your eyes_ or any other criterion that you cannot monitor and follow directly. Therefore, the standard of performance evaluation must be results, quality and respect for project delivery times.
As a virtual team leader, you should be always informed and familiar with performance evaluation standards and standards, especially in the field of telework. So you don't have to waste money and don't get satisfactory results in the end.
Help employees strike a balance between personal and professional life
As I mentioned earlier, employees who have the balance between personal and professional life are the most creative and productive, so you have to help your team members enjoy this balance and don't cost them extra tasks that make them work day and night and don't allow them to participate in everyday social life, because it will negatively affect the quality of your business and your company in general.
In telework, no one loses. Companies and employers will benefit from greater productivity at lower costs, and remote employees will enjoy a better life. So what are you looking at yet?! If you already have a team, experience the work remotely, and if you don't, start hiring independents and enjoy reaping the benefits of the work you and them.