Top 5 Tips For Leading Virtual Teams In Times Of Disruption

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Today's world is full of disruptions, especially in the business sector. This comes mainly as a result of the everevolving technology and market trends. However, the global COVID-19 epidemic caused disruption, unlike anything we've seen in recent times. Many companies had to change their business models and offer work-from-home options for employees. Research shows that 30% of employees worked remotely prior to the pandemic, while 48% of employees have kept working remotely post-pandemic.

Efficient management of virtual employees is a lot different from managing teams in a traditional office setting. Business leaders, however, can increase the engagement and performance of their teams by taking concrete actions and creating a culture that supports virtual workers.
Future disruptions could come in many other ways that disrupt people's work and routines. 

If you wonder how to get around hurdles to meet your business goals and desired results in terms of task and team spirit, below we share our best remote work practices and tips to lead your virtual team in times of disruption and achieve a high level of effectiveness, maintain business continuity, all while working remotely.  

Leverage Software Tools

Keeping an eye on your remote team is essential if you want to make sure that tasks are completed and deadlines are being met.

Fortunately, the excellent advancements in technology have allowed company managers to use productivity tracking software to monitor the productivity and performance of their employees. This high-tech solution allows managers to determine their team members' level of dedication and motivation, which can be especially tricky for remote teams, due to the absence of regular face-to-face contact.

Managers can monitor their teams' progress and continuously track their activity and in this way obtain valuable information that can help them make strategic decisions about how they should use their limited resources. 

They can also provide more precise feedback to their employees with the help of such monitoring tools and real-time data. This will increase production and help expand the company's reach. 

Build Trust

Uncertainty can lead to tension in working teams. There's a saying that trust has to be earned and this is true in the business world. For this reason, it is essential to strengthen your relationship with your remote team. Involve them in decision-making to let them know what you expect. This will help them to be supportive rather than reactive. Exposing your team to more decision-making transparency will create a foundation of trust. 

You should also create an environment that encourages all employees to voice their opinions and give them the chance to challenge each other's ideas. 

Your remote employees will feel like you don't trust them if you check in on them constantly.  Instead set clear expectations for when they should update you on their progress and completed assignments. 

Communicate Excessively

Success in times of disruption and distraction largely depends on good communication. Overcommunicating is not only desirable but it's also a necessity when there are major changes taking place and when your company hires employees all over the world. Different time zones can cause messages to get lost in such time gaps so it's crucial to ensure regular updates, check-ins, and follow-ups as it can help you avoid any misunderstandings.

Apart from this, communicating excessively is also important for reinforcing key messages from top leadership, like the company's vision, mission, and priorities.

You can easily share messages on virtual community platforms, either via an app or your company intranet. Use video chat to encourage everyone to use their cameras and to share the web. This will allow for two-way participation and it will also appeal to those who learn visually. To ensure that your teams stay connected and supported, you should also consider increasing the number of one-on-one meetings.

Create an Emotionally Safe Space

Trust and understanding are the foundations of safe spaces. Your remote workforce should feel safe to share their emotions in meetings and one-on-one conversations, especially in times of crisis. Active listening is a skill that allows you to listen and ask questions. Recognize the variety of emotions that can arise without judging or trying to œfix someone's feelings.

Uncertainty reigns, so it is important to avoid the "business as usual" approach. If your team thinks you have unspoken concerns, it can distract them and make it difficult to work effectively. Instead, figure out what the best way is to increase communication by organizing virtual coffee dates or working lunches.

Practice Calmness

Leading with calmness can inspire more trust and motivate your remote employees to perform better. When there is disruption and uncertainty, they will look to you for cues to know how to react to or feel in a particular situation. This is a powerful tool to have in your management toolbox as it can help prevent panic by simply using calm and definitive language.

Always remain clear about what you believe and communicate your message without creating an emotional impact. 

Final Thoughts

Leading virtual teams in times of disruption requires a lot of patience and work. Following these tips can help you navigate through immediate challenges while still managing a high level of engagement and effectiveness.
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