The UK workforce has had to get to grips with the challenges of virtual teams. Read our tips on rules to implement while managing a team remotely.
Working in virtual teams is not a new phenomenon. However, since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, an increasing number of people have begun working from home when possible.
Data from the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research and Data (WISERD) showed that the number of people who worked exclusively at home in the UK rose eight-fold from 5.7% of workers in January/February 2020 to 43.1% in April 2020. Even though it had fallen by June, it remained high at 36.5%.
We provide a number of tips to help navigate the challenges of working in virtual teams.
Top tips when working in virtual teams
1. Put the right infrastructure in place
If you're managing a virtual team, make sure you put effective systems in place to encourage productivity, knowledge sharing, communication, and social interaction.
2. Prioritise security
If you are accessing company data, systems and assets remotely, remember to download security updates as soon as they become available and change your password regularly.
3. Respect working patterns
Get your team to keep their status up-to-date in one of the many apps you can use to 'sync' with your team (Slack, Teams etc.). In that way, you avoid committing the faux-pas of calling colleagues when they are asleep or involved in childcare.
4. Establish a common language & ground rules
Agree on basic rules at your project kick-off (for example, preferences on out-of-hours contact, information sharing, communication protocols, etc.). If you work in a cross-border team, remember to respect others' cultures and differences.
5. Look after your health & wellbeing
It's just as important when you work away from the office, so take regular breaks away from your desk and screen, stand up and move around, change your posture, have your eyesight checked regularly, and arrange your work, so there's a mix of IT and non-IT tasks.
6. Recognise when it's time to talk
Often people over-rely on emails, texts and instant messages. If there's a possibility of misunderstandings, lots of messages have already gone back and forth, if you're providing sensitive feedback or needing to thrash out a final agreement, just pick up the phone!
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