Mental Health in Virtual Teams: Top Three Tips for Managers

MEntal Health In Virtual Teams 600x242 - Mental Health in Virtual Teams: Top Three Tips for Managers

We think nothing of making workplace accommodations for colleagues with a visible, physical disability so they can perform their work more ably. But can we say the same for mental illness and workplace stress? In both virtual teams and their co-located counterparts, a new report from research firm Morneau Shepell shows that 25% of workers say they have become ill due to workplace stress.

Common symptoms include:

• Insomnia
• Forgetfulness
• Anxiety
• Irritability
• Defensiveness
• Mood swings
• Hypersensitivity
• Lack of focus

Without taking mental health and stress into account, virtual managers run the risk of encountering lower productivity, weaker performance and higher absenteeism.

Why mental health matters in virtual teams
In addition to typical stressors such as workload and deadlines, a sense of isolation is especially common in virtual teams. The lack of face-to-face interaction makes it difficult to build trusted relationships, and miscommunication is more common without nonverbal cues such as facial expressions and body language. Add in the stigma people naturally feel about disclosing mental health issues or stress, and employees often feel as though they carry the weight of the world on their shoulders.

The tips below will help you to increase productivity, deepen interpersonal relationships, and boost resilience within your virtual team.

Top mental health tips for virtual managers:

Minimize social distance

In the virtual environment there is a tendency to over-focus on tasks and under-focus on relationships. This can worsen the sense of isolation that naturally comes with working apart from others and contribute to workplace stress. In contrast, one recent study found that colleagues who spend just 15 minutes socializing have a 20% increase in performance vs. those who don’t.

Unsurprisingly, co-located teams spend roughly 8% of their time socializing in physical locations like hallways or a nearby café. While these are not options for virtual teams, there are a number of excellent virtual equivalents including:

• Group chats or virtual meeting rooms for coffee breaks and team lunches.
• Instant messaging for fun, impromptu discussions about the latest show to binge-watch, upcoming vacations, or any other non-work topic.
• Start team meetings with an open invitation for anyone to share a recent success or challenge, tips they found, useful articles or other resources, etc. Showcasing team members in this manner is another way to foster trusting interpersonal relationships.

Make it about people, not technology

Success in the virtual world is 90% people and 10% technology – and mental health suffers when we place too much emphasis on the collaboration tools we use rather than the people using them. Virtual managers seeking to minimize mental health issues on their team should focus on the tone and nature of team communications, such as:

• When facing setbacks, focus on the path forward and lessons learned, not personal blame
• Encourage your team to ask for assistance when needed and not bear their burden alone
• Openly share information and project updates so everyone feels looped in and part of the team

Bridge gaps with language

Language is a powerful tool that can create a feeling of safety and trust, making it easier for employees to disclose their concerns and work with you to resolve issues. Non-judgmental language is especially important in virtual teams, where social distance can make it harder to come forward with any difficulties.

There are many ways to build relationships, communicate effectively, and address mental health in the workplace without the benefit of face-to-face interaction. Learn more about Virtual Team Builders team training solutions as well as one-on-one mentoring for virtual team leads to drive resilience and good mental health in your organization.

By : Virtual Teambuilders /March 14, 2019 /Managing Stress in a Virtual Environment, Resiliency in a Virtual Environment /0 Comment Read More

Three Characteristics of Resilience in Virtual Teams

Resilience in Virtual Teams


Successful teams – including virtual teams – all tend to display the same key characteristic: resilience. A resilient team is one that adapts to the challenges of an ever-changing business environment, overcoming setbacks and finding ways to thrive.

Virtual teams stand apart from traditional co-located ones in that geographic distance between virtual colleagues can intensify the impact of setbacks and lengthen the amount of time it takes to recover. Further, this distance can also make it easier for virtual team leads to missing crucial signs that your team lacks resilience. By the time it becomes obvious, the damage to team productivity and morale may be severe. With the right strategies in place, however, virtual teams can work together effectively and thrive when challenges arise.

So for virtual teams, what does resilience look like?


Resilient Virtual Teams Are:

  • Safe Research shows that teams with good, trusting relationships report a higher number of errors than those with less trusting, low-quality relationships. Resilient virtual teams operate in a way that empowers each member to take risks, present new ideas, and identify lessons learned without fear of judgment. By placing the focus on workflow, objective facts and the building of trusted relationships rather than personal culpability, you create a safe environment for everyone to identify, discuss and resolve setbacks and return to productivity in a connected, rational and efficient manner.
  • Informed Virtual managers should establish mechanisms to ensure that company updates,  are shared on a regular basis. Where teams have a mix of co-located and virtual members, make sure that everyone receives information at the same time. All too often, virtual employees are looped in as an afterthought, reinforcing feelings of isolation and resentment and creating us vs. them mentality that undermines trust and resilience
  • Proactive Resilient teams do not sit idly by when they identify an issue – they address and resolve them immediately. This is especially important in the virtual environment where a lack of face-to-face communication can make colleagues feel isolated and disconnected, heightening the impact of perceived problems. Virtual managers who make a point of identifying and resolving issues in cooperation with their team build trust and goodwill, two essential components of resilience.

Contact us to learn more about building resilience in your virtual team, setting your organization up for long-term, sustainable success!

You can read the updated version of the article here at Three Characteristics of Resilience in Virtual Teams


By : Virtual Teambuilders /February 07, 2019 /Uncategorized /0 Comment Read More
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    Virtual Team Builders is a training and consulting company that caters to corporations and teams who depend on effective virtual collaboration to succeed. Our training is targeted towards the unique challenges faced by teams operating in a virtual environment; challenges that are present whether members work 90 feet apart or 3000 miles apart.