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How to Lead Sucessful Virtual Teams

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Posted by Darleen DeRosa September 29, 2017

RemoteWorkforce employee telecommuting from home.

Today’s technology allows many employees to work from anywhere.

Many companies have a hybrid model where employees work from home two or three days a week, according to Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics.

Other companies, such as Yahoo, have done away with the work-at-home policy entirely. So why haven’t more companies adopted a model where employees work primarily or entirely at home?

A recent article from SkilledUp.com addresses one potential reason head-on: a virtual workforce comes with unique challenges.

Whether your company allows employees to work remotely 100 percent of the time, part of the time, or only if necessary, setting appropriate parameters and having effective management make all the difference in whether or not your model will be effective.

The article quotes a number of experts—including my colleague, OnPoint Consulting President Rick Lepsinger—on what it takes for virtual workplaces to succeed today.

Here are a few of the most important points to consider as you decide what type of policy is right for your company when it comes to leading virtual teams.

Focus On Results, Not Hours

Many managers are still stuck in the mindset that a dedicated employee is one who works from 9 to 5, five days a week.

At least one well-known study on worker productivity has dispelled the myth that employees who work at home don’t work as hard. Focus on what your employees are actually accomplishing, rather than how much time they physically spend in the office.

Maintain Open Communication

Rick and I have studied hundreds of virtual teams to learn what the most effective ones do well and where others sometimes fall short.

Some leaders assume that managing a virtual team is just like managing one that’s co-located. However, there are distinct differences between exercising virtual leadership skills and in-person leadership skills, and the best leaders need to account for them. Leading from a distance requires more frequent, quality communication to make up for the lack of face-to-face contact, for instance. It shouldn’t be surprising then, that the most successful virtual leaders are strong communicators.

As Rick puts it, they know how to substitute what happens naturally in person—a casual chat in the breakroom, a quick meeting to check in—with instant messaging, texts or video calls. 

Build Trust

All good working relationships are built on trust and transparency, but this becomes even more essential in a virtual working relationship. Managers who don’t see employees on a day-to-day basis may resort to checking in more often or becoming concerned if they don’t receive an immediate response.

Ask your employees to let you know if they’re going to be unavailable during a certain time of the day, but allow them the flexibility to do what they need to do as long as they’re accessible when they need to be and getting their work done.

For more insights, read the full article

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Topics: Virtual Teams, Work Smarter Virtually, Virtual Team Building

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