The year 2020 came with a lot of changes after the World Health Organization declared the Covid-19 pandemic. The technical revolution got an upspring and increased our dependence digitally. Regardless of what corner in the world, the pandemic impacted all lives and businesses. For many, it involved an abrupt shift to work remotely from home rather than in an office surrounded by colleagues and clients. In fact, the old work traditions maynever return. The company culture has a direct impact on an employee’s engagement as well happiness and vital to take into consideration for virtual success. Now is a unique time to foster and endure these virtual super teams and here is a review on how to do it. 

Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce in San Francisco and Silicon Valley team consists of members working from Sweden, San Francisco, and Orange County. There are certainly new benefits and fantastic opportunities being connected virtually across distances. Some of the advantages include the allowing to hire staff from different parts of the world giving you access to the best talent in your desired field. Virtually saves operational expenses (particularly in HR, finance, marketing), flexible support, and access to a full suite of services and to work from wherever you are. Disadvantages may include challenges in virtual teams that can lie in communication, poor leadership/management, and incompetent team members as well as mental health, isolation, and collaboration. Below are several strategies and guidelines in how to establish successful virtual teams.

“What happens to the culture if your team members don’t see each other every day?”

Develop an inclusive culture at work
Virtual culture is more than Zoom Happy Hours and webinars. It’s a space where each employee feels comfortable, safe, respected, and treated like a valued member of the team. A place where they feel like they belong. A recently conducted remote work survey revealed that 46% of workers feel isolated from their team and reported 30% admitted it’s challenging to collaborate with their colleagues not being in an office. According to research conducted by EY’s Center for Talent Innovation, “39% of respondents feel the greatest sense of belonging when their colleagues check in with them, both personally and professionally.” 

Furthermore, when people feel like they belong at work, they are more productive, motivated, engaged and more likely to contribute to their fullest potential. 

As most things have are remote, there is no “us” and “them,” because everybody is experiencing the same sense of disconnect. We are all starting from the same place, with an opportunity to figure out how to work better together, share ideas, and do things for each other, rather than just for ourselves. By encouraging ourselves to have an innovative mindset all the time, we can be better prepared to rise to the challenge, work together and support each other, no matter what comes our way. There cannot be one solely engaged; it has to be a collective working together.

Hire the right people
You need to hire and magnetize the right people who already fit into your culture profile in order to attain an integrated company goal. When you built the best team, there are three major parts that need to be conquered jointly: communication, collaboration, and engagement. It can be beneficial to implement an onboarding gift to welcome the newly hired. When the team is assured, and everyone has a specific titled role it is important to familiarize everyone with each other’s functions. This will establish cross-border links and strengthen the team functioning in good and bad times. Next is to build a team with rhythm and pace.

Integrate regular meetings and follow up 
When members of a team are working separately on distance, it is too easy to get disconnected from the normal rhythms of work-life. One antidote is to be disciplined in creating and enforcing rhythms in virtual teamwork. This means, having regular meetings, ideally the same day and time each week. Rigid routines are essential for team success, this is the time when the team can re-group, set plans, listen to each other, and discuss. An established regular schedule provides comfort for all to rely on to work towards defined quarterly, monthly, and weekly performance goals. Once the team is on the same rigid routine, the dependency on how to use digital tools is fundamental. 

Apply digital infrastructure 
It is a hiring manager’s responsibility to identify the new talents’ technical skills and capability to virtually collaborate effectively within the team. Digital infrastructure is essential for virtual success. Without being proficient in using leading technologies, the virtual capability will struggle. Tools like Slack, Google Docs, Microsoft Team, Mail and Zoom are the backbone of the workplace. These tools make it easy for a team to work seamlessly together. There is no occasion for virtual teams to hang around the coffee machine, these fewer opportunities for professional or casual conversations tend to make virtual teams more effective. Nevertheless, is important to embed guidelines in how to use what digital tool for what kind of communication. The tools assist to resolve questions and issues, clarify ideas, discuss, brainstorm, and update progress with minimal workflow interruption. Significantly, in team meetings, make sure to use video and have everyone participate. Beyond the efficiency and clarity that will be made using a video call, it is a great way to communicate professionally with colleagues, facilitate the culture, and reassure success.

Time zone differences and working hours
If your team is working within different time zones, you have to be aware of their working hours when setting meetings and anticipating responses. Let your employees know your expectations for their working hours and response time while being mindful of the time zone differences. It is essential to ensure that teams can work seamlessly with their remote counterparts. The speed at which you can communicate defines how quickly you can make success. For example, it is an incredible competitive advantage having access and the virtual ability to respond to a client within six hours anywhere in the world at any time. Even if there are loads of benefits to virtual teams some will unfortunate not triumph.  

Several virtual teams fail due to a lack of communication
Deprived communication and understanding are at the root of disagreement and conflicts which can easily transponder into poor management, badly integrated team members, misinterpretations, ill-equipped staff, and personality clashes. Most true conflicts in a work environment are imagined and unresolved verbally between two parts. In order to overcome this phenomenon, the understanding of the essence in communication is fundamental.

“Communication is “the oxygen of a distributed company.”

When people understand each other, difficulties melt away. The reference “communication is the oxygen of a distributed company” is not purposeful, too much oxygen can be damaging as well. When a team scales past the level of effectiveness for everybody to keep up with everything, it is primary to invest in an editorial outlook or hire on a communication manager who will ensure what information is published, communicated, heard, and understood by those who need it and provide productivity. Finally, virtual team is here to stay and this article is jam-packed with information on how to build successful virtual teams. Its anticipation is to underpin the importance of coming together as a beginning, keeping together as the process and working together is what makes the success. 

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Malin Lindholm
Communication & Brand Management