Today we are going to be talking about making genuine connections with your virtual team members, and what that really means. Connecting with people virtually goes beyond simply sharing information about each other; it comes from genuine intention to grow relationships, and the genuine presence that comes from that intention.
COVID-19 Proves it: Virtual Teams are the New Normal
Time and time again, world events have shown us that we can’t always rely on working face-to-face. As The Wall Street Journal reports, virtual teams are the new normal. Working from home has officially evolved from a perk to a necessity.
Virtual teams are the new normal. Even after this first wave of social distancing passes, we are likely to see further spikes before the Coronavirus is fully under control. And as The Atlantic reports, the sudden need to work from home due to COVID-19 is causing managers and employees a huge amount of stress and testing their resilience.
Which means that knowing how to work remotely is essential for a resilient workforce that can weather storms like this, which are likely to become the new normal going forward.
Building Resilience in Virtual Teams
Rapidly transitioning to a virtual office is more complicated than simply giving staff a laptop and an Internet connection. In fact, technology is only 10% of the equation – the remaining 90% is human.
It’s a critical 10%, however: the foundational puzzle piece that enables us to collaborate and connect effectively. Many people mandated to work from home are not comfortable working with their collaboration software. Without proper training, their stress levels will rise and their productivity will fall, impacting your entire team.
As for the remaining 90%, the question is how to engage with and sustain relationships with your team.
- Social distancing can lead to feelings of isolation, which can increase our anxiety and reduce resilience
- Without the ability to pop by each other’s desk or meet for coffee, everyone needs to mindfully and deliberately spend time building those relationships
- Virtual team meetings are opportunities to reinforce trusted working relationships as much as they are to discuss work
Virtual teams can be enormously effective, productive, and high performing. Due to COVID-19, most organizations are being mandated to work virtually without any time to plan.
This is understandable of course, but it can be ultimately detrimental to the success of your team. Training is an opportunity for managers and staff to take a step back and appreciate what it takes to operate successfully in the virtual environment, setting them up for success over the short and long term.
Working Virtually is Not Business as Usual
Simply put, you can’t apply face-to-face strategies in the virtual world – it takes a new set of skills to be effective.
Tips you can put into practice today include:
- Did you trust your team to do their work before? Then trust them now! Virtual employees typically work four hours per week longer than their co-located counterparts, and usually check their work email after hours
- Pick up the phone and check in with your staff every day – not just about work, but how they are coping in general
- Create opportunities to connect such as virtual team lunches or a virtual happy hour
- Start team meetings with a quick, personal check-in – make sure your team has an opportunity to share how they are coping during this tough time
- Hold virtual office hours where staff can drop into your conference line; this lets your team know that you are accessible to discuss anything needing your support
Take Your Virtual Team to the Next level
Social distancing and the need to work virtually are here to stay – particularly as more social distancing and office lockdowns are likely to occur before the Coronavirus pandemic is over. The best, most reliable way to ensure business continuity in these challenging times is to make sure your team has the skills to be successful now and in the future.
To help global businesses make the transition and optimize their operations, we offer the following services to provide immediate, effective support to your virtual team in this challenging time:
With reduced attention spans and increased distractions and demands on our time, microlearning’s popularity is soaring due to it’s short burst learning format and versatility. We will partner with you to create custom microcontent, to support your learning and development objectives.
Certificate in virtual team management:
The Certificate in Virtual Team Management from the Project Management Association of Canada is a highly interactive, experiential and practical program. It is designed to meet the needs and maximize the effectiveness of working in an everchanging and challenging virtual environment.
We’re on YouTube:
Virtual teams and leads need access to great advice and best practices now more than ever, which is why we launched our YouTube channel with free tips and advice. Visit now and subscribe to get the latest virtual teams’ content!
What do you think? Is the virtual office about to become the new normal? Let us know on social media using the hashtag #VTB!
A year ago, I would have had an incredibly difficult time imagining a set of circumstances that would have kept me from a dear friend’s funeral. Yet, that’s exactly what happened when I recently found myself unable to attend due to COVID-19 restrictions. As I mourned this loss in my own way, it also made me pause and reflect on just how much the Coronavirus pandemic is wearing on us emotionally.
American workers spend a lot of time in meetings – an average of 6 hours per week by some estimates, with the total number of weekly meetings across the country as high as 55 million. At the same time, nearly half of all meetings are rated as “poor” by employees, meaning they walk away feeling as though their time has been wasted and little was accomplished. (Verizon)