How to Build a Happy and Productive Virtualized Team
Do you struggle to find the right balance to make your virtual team happy and productive? Are you searching for the best tools to use for your team to succeed?
Creating a happy and productive team environment can be challenging for any business. There can be added pressures for a team that operates virtually. For example, running a business such as an outsourced accounting firm or employing work-from-home accountants can bring about problems when trying to create a productive AND happy team. But this is true with any team that works and communicates virtually.
With these simple steps you can be confident that you and your virtual team will become happy and productive!
In order to achieve the goal of building a happy and productive virtual team such as a virtualized back office accounting firm or work- from-home accounting team, a productive environment is essential. Companies who don’t utilize virtualization services may be under the impression that those who work virtually will be unproductive or inefficient. But that can be the case in any situation whether its in an in-office setting or at-home office.
The major component to productivity and even the feeling of happiness is the environment of the worker. Some employees find it hard to concentrate in a cubicle setting with frequent interruptions. Working virtually allows for those who can’t work in an office environment to operate from home or a location they can think quietly at while sitting avoiding wasted time on a long commute.
Tools For Collaborate
Tools that make the collaboration easier between your virtual team and yourself is another important resource to use. For example, utilizing cloud software like QuickBooks allows all of the accountants to see projects and data in real-time in order to collaborate and make important decisions.
Other tools your company can provide for your virtual team to make life easier for your employees and you, as the business owner are video conference tools such as Skype. Video conferencing tools can be used to keep team members focused on the present meeting. Normal conference calls over the phone can cause a person to zone out and stop paying attention to the matter at hand. Face-to-face visualization is important when working with a virtual team.
Virtual team members can sometimes forget to compensate for the fact that they won’t be bumping into each other around the office. They may tend to forget about other team members. Using tools like Skype and Google+ allows your virtual employees to create opportunities to chat both formally and informally. Keeping a chat room constantly open encourages interactions between the team members without being distracting.
Using email, Dropbox, and Google Drive allows your team members to feel confident they have the tools to share reports or other information for the business. Screen sharing tools like Skype and Join.me or Jing will give everyone visual demonstrations. These tools make it possible to build a happy and productive team through communication.
In order to keep all of the tools for collaboration running smoothly, the manager or you, as the business owner needs to implement certain systems that work for the team. There needs to be a specific process or training program for your virtualized team members.
One aspect that should be built into the culture of a virtual team is the allowance of flexible work hours. That is one of the main selling points for those who want to work virtually. Allowing flexible hours gives each team member the freedom that they may not have in an office setting. This will make your employees happier, and in turn, make your job easier.
Another important piece that should be built into the culture of a virtualized team is to continue reinforcing core concepts to the team like your vision and the mission of the business. One way of doing this is by using video conferencing or specially made videos to inspire the team. A virtual culture can be more difficult to convey due to the fact that there is little to none in-person interactions. Culture is important in any company, but it’s especially important to promote a good virtual culture to ensure employee happiness.
Sending meaningful gifts for special occasions like your employee’s birthdays is another way to show how much you appreciate them and value their happiness. This will make your employees feel appreciated, thus boosting morale.
Build a culture that cares for your virtual employees by creating clear standards of communication. Make sure you are checking in periodically to see how the team is adjusting to being a virtual worker. Some may struggle with this concept in the beginning.
Communicate about the projects each team member is accomplishing. Open communication is an important rule to implement into a virtual team for it to work successfully. It’s important to make sure there is communication not only between you as the business owner and your employees, but within the team members as well. Using the tools previously mentioned for collaboration are important in making sure there is a conversation flowing between the team.
Organize overlapping time periods where everyone, regardless of their location is working at the same time in order to organize virtual meetings during these times.
As the business owner, it’s important to hold each member of the team accountable. Goals and expectations should be met, but there should be a line between micro-managing and simply communicating.
For example, in order to work as a virtual accountant, they not only have to have the right accounting skills and experience but should have good character and be a self-starter. Those who work virtually should have an attitude of self-managing themselves. It’s important to find people with the right work ethic to be able to succeed in this environment. One bad apple can taint management, projects, and other team members. This could cause unhappiness and conflict in the virtualized team if everyone doesn’t carry his or her own weight.
Many people who want to work virtually are willing to take a pay cut to receive other benefits. Other benefits can include things such as eliminating their commute time and flexibility in their schedules. Even though most are willing to take this cut, you should be paying your virtual workers well. This ensures not only happiness within your team but also guarantees they work productively and sticks with you long term.
One way to ensure your virtual team continues to bond together is by having a few in-person meetings a year. This will help to build a more personal interaction between your team. Creating a true team feeling is important. Make sure you encourage non-work related conversations with your team in your video conferences and in-person meetings. This allows the team and management to get to know one another and feel comfortable in the team. Get everyone on the team involved in important events and projects, whether in-person or virtually.
If you’re able to create a happy and productive virtual team, those who thrive with virtualization require less management and time than workers in an office environment. A happy and productive virtualized teams, such as a virtual back office accounting firm or an at-home virtual accountant gives these self-starters the freedom to operate effectively and can be even more appealing to them than a free buffet at lunch in the office.