written by
Daniel Gerow

Managing Virtual Teams: Getting Team Members to Connect Across the Globe

5 min read

In today's global economy, business owners look for ways to streamline their operations while boosting efficiency and lowering costs. Building a team of remote contractors is one of the most effective strategies to increase your chances of finding top talent while also boosting the efficiency of your workflows. However, managing virtual teams can present unique challenges – particularly with regard to establishing tight-knit, trusting relationships.

TAP Inc Managing Virtual Teams: Getting Team Members to Connect Across the Globe

According to the Harvard Business Review, virtual teams are more productive, but often feel disconnected from their peers. As a business owner, communication is one of the biggest challenges to overcome when managing virtual teams.

Different time zones, duties, cultures, and other factors can make it challenging to get all members to push your company's agenda. And yet, uniting your virtual team isn't as difficult as you may think.

Success comes down to using innovative strategies and tools to bridge the communication between team members and recreate face-to-face interactions from afar.

Don't know how to get your remote team to connect? Here are four effective ways to bring your team together and start boosting your team's productivity today.

Uniting Virtual Teams

Successful companies strive for putting together the best teams to achieve their business goals. In fact, many business owners, executives, and managers claim that finding the right people and hiring are the hardest parts of running an effective team.

Once you do find the right people, you want to make sure you're able to keep them by uniting them, making them feel a sense of belonging, and reminding them of the shared vision you all are working toward.

While managing virtual and on-site teams is challenging, you can create a synergy between your team by harnessing the power of technology and the best virtual communication strategies.

Use Chat Platforms to Bring the Team Together

Chat platforms are a great tool to get the conversation going between team members. Use applications such as Slack, Basecamp, or Rocket.chat, among others.

When managing virtual teams, aim to create a good balance between fun and work within your chat platform. Allowing team members to have natural conversations about anything going on in their lives encourages natural relationships and trust to form.

Create separate channels to discuss specific projects, day-to-day operations, and fun topics that, in an office setting, would happen around the watercooler. If you hear virtual crickets, spark a conversation among your virtual team members by posting funny memes or initiate a contest for who can tell the funniest work-related joke.

Discussing diverse topics through a chat platform makes it far easter to establish a relaxed work atmosphere and bring your remote team together.

Remote "Eat, Learn, Grow" Series

Every business team includes members from diverse backgrounds and industries. However, diversity of culture, is often more prevalent in a remote team, even just for the fact that each team member is located at a different pin around the globe.

In-person teams get the benefit of attending training sessions, events, seminars, and conferences together. They may eat lunch together, ride the elevator together, or even carpool into the office. Remote teams, however, don't get the luxury of these little chunks of time to get to know their colleagues in between work days.

When working with virtual teams, you can recreate some of this magic with remote "Eat, Learn, Grow" series. An "Eat, Learn, Grow" series is a sequence of 1-hour meetings with a relaxed mood – often accompanied by lunch – spread throughout the year. During each meeting, one member of the team presents information he or she learned from a recent project, client experience, or professional conference.

At the end of every meeting, members can discuss what they learned and ask any questions. "Eat, Learn, Grow" meetings allow team members to connect in a head-space away from official work, while also learning and growing professionally.

Virtual Meetings

Scheduling face-to-face time with your remote team members is vital to connect with your employees. As a leader, you should always make time to conduct both one-on-one and team meetings to remind your team that you're present.

When working remotely, it can be easy for individuals to feel isolated, alone, and mentally distanced from the leadership support they need. Maintain open channels of communication and trust by making yourself available at regular intervals so team members know they'll get to check in with you.

TAP Inc Managing Virtual Teams: Getting Team Members to Connect Across the Globe

Plus, as you grow your team, putting a face to a name will provide immense value to managers and members alike by giving them a more in-person-like experience. Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, and GoToMeeting are excellent platforms that allow you to ramp up the humanizing factor of your gatherings more so than conference calls or email threads.

Plan a Yearly Team Meetup or Retreat

Building a remote team allows a business to hire the best talent from any location in the world. Getting team members to interact face-to-face may seem daunting, but planning a yearly team meetup is a great way for a remote workers to connect.

In fact, many remote teams that have recurring annual or quarterly meetups say they look forward to those trips and find them exceptionally rewarding. Annual team retreats benefit businesses with combined on-site and remote team members immensely by bringing everyone together.

If it's difficult for your virtual team to travel – or if you have several team members in other countries who may not be able or willing to fly internationally – you can also host a virtual meetup: no work, no learning, no training; just colleagues spending a bit of time together playing some ice-breaker games and sharing a few laughs.

Managing Virtual Teams to Create Synergy

According to Holmes Report, poor communication cost organizations about $37 billion every year worldwide. As a business owner, it's vital to prioritize creating synergy across your teams to prevent miscommunication and get every member to connect.

Mitigate costs due to poor communication by encouraging over-communication. Some team members assume their colleagues already know something, saw an update, or heard about some important piece of information from someone else. Unfortunately, assumptions lead to mistakes.

Encourage your team members to communicate any time there's a change, progress, or update on a project to ensure no one is ever left out of the loop.

If you haven't built your remote team yet, there's no better day to start than today.

At TAP Inc., we build your unique agency team based on your specific needs, so you can turn your brand into a top player in your industry. To get more information or join the TAP Inc. workforce revolution, visit our website.