Maintaining work relationships virtually presents unique challenges. It’s more difficult to build trust, manage accountability and form bonds among teams separated by physical distance. Add to that a greater potential for miscommunication, and it’s no wonder our own research has shown one in every four virtual teams is not fully functional.
High-performing teams are able to overcome these challenges and continually adapt to issues as they arise. Here are three companies that have gotten it right.3 Companies With High-Performing Virtual Teams
Dell is one of the best known multinational computer technology companies. In 2009, it developed a work flexibility program called Connected Workplace. Offering flexwork options to employees, the company has seen a more engaged and productive workforce with global participation of the program above 50 percent.
Workers are four times as likely to be engaged at work and two times as likely to want to stay at their current jobs when they are able to work where and when they like. Dell’s program has also created a more collaborative environment that has been just as productive as in-office teams, promoting creativity and diversity in perspective.
Remote work is important to Dell’s business model and its company values. With the demand for commuting decreased, Dell has been able to reduce its impact on the planet while creating more happy team members.
The Connected Workplace program emphasizes that communication is key since all onboarding is online. Dell implemented a Day 1 success team that is committed to providing support to new employees via instant messaging, email, and calls during the early stages of employment.
Using social media and other digital properties, such as Instagram, team members are encouraged to share their personal experiences working remotely. They post about their day to day work life using the tag @LifeatDell.
Basecamp is headquartered in Chicago, but is run with a team of 50 across 32 different cities worldwide. The company offers a business tool that allows other organizations to host, develop, and communicate about projects on one platform. Having such a diverse team from so many different places has allowed it to bring a unique perspective to the market.
The company boasts high retention of employees and wrote a book on remote work. Basecamp believes that having only face-to-face meetings and workspaces can limit creativity and innovation. Giving employees the option to work and collaborate in methods that work best for their individual work habits not only boosts the quality of their work, but also the culture of the company.
Services at Basecamp interact with customers on a regular basis across the globe. A happy, productive company culture is reflected in client-facing positions, which in turn creates satisfied customers.
Virtual team leaders encourage their reports to be accessible, but to also practice regular work hours. They are keenly aware of burnout and advise employees to disconnect from work to maintain a healthy balance of work and life in order to avoid “cabin fever.”
Harvest is a company that has developed a time tracking software while working remotely from the beginning. Utilizing a “working without borders” ideology, 80 percent of its workforce is based outside of their Manhattan headquarters.
Similar to Basecamp, Harvest supports diversity and a work-life balance. The company’s culture allows for workers, or “Harvesters”, to work when they feel most productive. In-depth communication across teams requires more deliberate decision-making. This pushes for team members to be more inspired in their project development.
Using virtual communication tools, such as Slack, allows for teams to be in constant communication with each other even though there is no direct interaction. These channels are utilized at the start of onboarding and beyond.
Although these three global companies have developed best practices for managing virtual teams over many years, companies of all sizes can apply these tactics to their own teams.