The world we live in is vastly interconnected and from this we now find ourselves working with others from across the globe. A report from The Economist states that one in three companies has setup virtual working so they can tap into the global talent pool.
As we adjust to the ever-changing, global work environment we also need to make changes to tackle the challenges it presents. Teams that are comprised of individuals from across the country or globe now face working with others from different time zones, cultures, languages, and experiences.
Benefits for using virtual employees are well-understood and have been quickly adopted but what does one do when creating a virtual team or find themselves working within one when there are these clear barriers that can stifle the opportunities and productivity?
Here are some of the elements that should be explored to make the remote work for you:
A. Provide Training
Remote individuals hired onto the team will generally have a basic grasp of working in the environment but you may have a preference on the tools the team will use. At this moment you need to consider that not everyone may have experience with those tools since there are so many available.
Providing a training space sets your team on a course for incredible productivity:
- Create documents that stand as best practices for the tools
- Give examples and access to past, successful campaigns
- Invest further into the team by purchasing training courses
Creation of this training can be as simple as prioritizing a sub-domain with restrictive access that houses the modules otherwise a basic master document could equally suffice.
When an individual has trouble tackling a task encourage others to step up and take over since it’s a team game but try to learn from another during those moments such as using screen sharing tools to see how it’s done. In a way it creates a classroom for all which is win/win for the team.
B. Encourage Exchange
The cultures and languages are going to create a natural barrier and in many instances it’s the nuances of these items that disrupt the flow of work.
We all have expressions that aren’t easily translated which may cause friction within the team. If these expressions are taken the wrong way it can create a divide in the team which will lead to problems reaching goals.
- Ask yourself whether others would understand a cultural reference
- Ask yourself whether others would misunderstand a joke as offensive
- Ask yourself whether others would feel a comment is too political
It’s best that language remains simple when it comes to work so there are no misunderstandings between the teammates.
A solid way to overcome this challenge is to encourage exchange where teammates have time to share themselves, culture, and lifestyle. Not only does this help with removing those barriers when working with global, remote individuals but it creates a bonding experience that will get others on the same page to stay strong on their work.
C. Communication and Face-to-Face Time
A team that enjoys one another are going to play well together but this can be difficult when there is a lack of communication and face-to-face time. When the only time a team interacts with one another is during a project it doesn’t allow them to build empathy and camaraderie; it feels like they are another cog in the machine.
There are many ways to build companionship within the team environment and ensure they are productive:
- Hold regular virtual meetings using video conferencing tools to stay up-to-date on projects, gather feedback, and allow for banter
- Invite those within a relative location of the main business to come into the office or meet up at a local favorite to share food and drinks
- Utilize team management tools and small social networks so there is always a line of communication to every member of the team
Each individual will approach their work in a different fashion; forcing everyone to conform to one particular style of productivity will clash with personal preferences. Placing too many tasks on a single individual and coupling it with a failure to communicate will also bring productivity to a halt.
Give the team players the right tools, encourage interaction, and utilize the multiple channels of communication to see projects come to fruition.