Before 2020, talk about building virtual teams was primarily hypothetical. Organizations may have had some remote employees, or maybe a bit of a hybrid environment, but when March 2020 rolled around, it was no longer optional or theoretical. Having employees working remotely was imperative.
Businesses have learned a lot of lessons since that time in facilitating remote work in a crisis situation, but at the same time, they’re now seeing they’re going to have to lay the groundwork for virtual and remote work in a longer-term way.
From dealing with cybersecurity issues in the digital workspace to maintaining company culture, there are benefits of this new way of doing things but certainly challenges as well.
The following are some tips that can help you along the way as you work to build strong virtual teams going forward.
First and foremost, it’s going to be impossible to have strong virtual teams if there’s not a focus on cybersecurity. Security is one of the most significant risks in a virtual and remote work environment, and it needs to be addressed accordingly.
The specifics of how you do this might depend on your employees and your industry, but a lot of companies are utilizing zero-trust architecture. Zero trust architecture contrasts with traditional perimeter-based security, which really only makes sense in an on-premises environment.
Zero trust is the ideal option for the digital workspace, thanks to a trust-no-one approach that can be well-suited to BYOD policies and working from anywhere.
Have Specific Policies and Guidelines
If you want your virtual teams to work like a well-oiled machine, you absolutely need to create written, carefully defined policies and guidelines and also outline expectations.
This is something companies failed to do, and they saw the consequences.
Leave no room for gray areas or confusion when it comes to your virtual team because this is how you can regain control over a remote work environment, even though you may have to give some up some control in a lot of areas.
You also want to outline what goals and roles are, but you need to go out of your way to offer clarification on all tasks and processes.
Coordination can become a challenge, but if you’re proactive in how you assign tasks and details, then it’s going to help.
Have a Social Space
It may sound strange to say that you should have a social space for your virtual teams, but you absolutely should.
Maybe this is something like an intranet or message board where employees can have more informal conversations. You might also have a quick weekly meeting via video or just find some way that there is a less formal, less work-centric way for your virtual team to talk and get to know one another.
When people can see each other face-to-face, even in the virtual sense, they’re going to feel closer and more accountable to the people they’re working with and for.
Conduct Performance Evaluations
There are many ways that we tend to do things differently in a remote work environment, and sometimes that’s a good thing, but other times it’s not.
For example, performance evaluations have long been a part of the business world, and they’re vital. They help guide employees in the right direction. That feedback will help workers know what they’re doing well and what they’re not, and it sets them up for promotions within the company.
When these evaluations aren’t happening, not only are employees not getting information on how they can improve but they’re also being passed over for new opportunities.
Conducting performance evaluations should absolutely be happening in a remote work environment.
You want to know how they’re contributing, and you want to have specific metrics in place. You also want to make sure that you’re considering your virtual teams for new growth and development opportunities, especially if you also have in-office employees that might get more of your attention.
Have a Strong Digital Infrastructure
A digital team can’t perform at its highest level without the necessary infrastructure, just like you have on-premises.
Your virtual team needs the right technology provided to them, and they need to be comfortable using it. If you aren’t sure what they need, then ask what their biggest challenges or sticking points are to see if there are things you can do to help. Finally, define your culture, or at least what you want it to be. It’s harder to get a grasp on culture as a virtual team, but make it something specific that you can all work toward as a team.