Many of us are currently working from home and this means virtually communicating with our colleagues on a day to day basis. Geographic separation can make it challenging for dispersed teammates to communicate and collaborate. But evidence suggests that if virtual work groups are well managed, they can outperform teams with common office space.
Here are three steps that will help strengthen and support your virtual team:
Iron Out Technical Issues
Teething problems are to be expected with work transitions but ensure that your team have everything they need to carry out their job to the best of their ability. Install easy-to-use systems for conference calling, making direct calls, sending text messages, and participating in online discussion forums and virtual team rooms.
If working from home is not the norm look at creating a guide to prompt and support your team with any technical problems, provide outsourced IT support or be available over the phone to talk through any issues.
Create a Virtual Community
The main challenge with working from home is the sense of isolation employees may feel. Research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that 7.4million people, across the UK, said that their wellbeing had been affected by feeling lonely during the last lockdown. Loneliness can be very daunting for team members, especially when they are used to being in a group environment. Daily ‘check ins’ can give your team a boost, virtual coffee meetings/welcome parties and video calls can all build trust, appreciation and a sense of community. Use tools available such as Microsoft Teams to stay connected and use the video facilities to conduct team meetings.
Physically not working together within an office environment can affect you and your team mentally. Look out for any signs of withdrawal or low mood, for more guidance visit Mind, they provide helpful techniques and tips. If you feel these symptoms continue or get worse, contact your manager or human resources.
Support Personal Journeys
With the chances of an ‘emerging mental health crisis’ due to lockdown periods it is important to encourage your team’s individual journeys. ‘Lunch and Learn’ sessions or ‘Exciteminars’ are great concepts that involve team members hosting virtual seminars to share something they are passionate about. This can be anything from film reviews, gardening, cleaning hacks. Not talking about work and focusing on something else can boost morale and can act as team building.
Within the scope of work itself, it’s beneficial to be aware of your team member’s strengths and encourage these behaviours. Conducting a Myer Briggs Test (MBTI) can help build stronger more effective teams and create a sense of belonging and compassion amongst team members. Personal Development Plans (PDPs) can also ensure that your team stay motivated and can focus on their own professional goals. Are there any online courses they can suggest completing? This also gives you a chance to set expectations for your team and encourage a strong work/ life balance.