The numbers prove the shift from working in an office to being on a virtual team. In the U.S, alone, nearly 5 million employees now work remotely several days a week, with 30% of them working that way full-time. Often these folks are spread out across the map in different locations and time zones. Some people embrace the opportunity to work from home, but others don’t. They may struggle with working from afar, complaining about being isolated and disconnected now that they are not just right down the hallway. If productivity has become an issue for your team or for you, for that matter, how can you turn that around so you have a productive virtual team?
Too Much is Too Much
Remote workers may compare notes with others who dress up and fight the traffic to get to the office. What’s a common complaint virtual workers have? They find that they don’t work from home; they live at work. The office worker can call it a day when they clock out at five, but those at home sometimes find that their hours stretch on through early evening with a late call from the boss or checking their email one last time.
Another inequity is the built-in breaks that office workers have. Maybe Joe from upstairs comes by mid-morning to chat. Or several on the team go out for lunch together. Virtual workers often forget to take breaks, only doing so when they get a bladder alert. Lunch may be quick, too – sandwiches made in the kitchen and eaten at their desks.
The pressure is on, too. Sometimes those on a virtual team get the sense that they are being compared to others. So they compete with the other team members to prove that they are productive as they hustle to get yet another thing done.
Too much work. Too much screen time. And too much pressure. Even though one might think that these combined would make someone more productive, they actually work in the opposite direction. These folks can suffer from burnout in no time flat.
Not Enough is Not Enough
Some members on your team may not be getting enough supervision. Are they available when you call? Does it take too long for them to respond to an email? Are they drifting from their schedule and their task list because of the distractions of working from home? Each one is different and may need more attention during the work week. The contact and communication you are providing may not be enough.
Other team members may need more feedback than they would if you could just stop by their desks with a comment or two. They may second-guess your response to their work and that may skew the results. For some reason, remote workers seem to need more reassurance that they are on the right track.
Communication is often not sufficient for remote workers, with an emphasis on the word remote. In an office setting, people come and go, walking down the hallway, meeting in the break room. There is unplanned contact between people as they go about their work. That’s not the case in the virtual workplace.
Not enough supervision. Not enough feedback. And not enough communication. Where does this lead? Your team may be productive enough but in a lackluster and unmotivated way.
Aim for a Healthy Balance
Virtual teams need to be managed in a different way than those folks who worked with you in the office. Perhaps they need more attention from you. They also might need guidance on how to balance their work day and their time, either encouraging them to spend more time at work – or less.
Work flexibility is often a plus, and that’s why working remotely is becoming more popular nowadays. Many employees claim they are more productive when they work from home, and, in fact, they prefer to concentrate solely on a project without the interruptions they had when in the office.
Even though they are there and you are not, your virtual team also often needs to continue being trained. An update, a refresher, a new course. When they are virtual, these sessions can make such a huge difference. Team members can complete the training at their own pace and review any tough concepts again.
How to Get That Balance
To manage a productive virtual team, communication is essential. You may have to ramp up the number of calls you make or the email messages you send to those on your team. That helps your team feel involved, included, and essential.
There’s another option, though. Something they will notice right away. The average person checks their phones nearly 60 times a day – and yes, some of that is during work hours. So, send them a push notification – right to their phone. You can do that by creating an app for your team through Business Glu. Not only can you use your app for push notifications, but you also use Business Glu to keep all of your training sessions and any video content you want shared with your team. More importantly, you can see which of your team members has completed the session.
Maintaining a virtual productive team can be challenging, but Business Glu will make it much easier for you. Be productive. Inspire your team to be productive. Contact us to see what your Business Glu can do for you to ensure that you have a productive virtual team.