Building a team made of remote workers is a challenge for many project managers. It’s hard to create a sense of community when employees are never together in the same office. It can also make people feel isolated, disconnected from what is happening in the company.
And yet, you know that allowing your team to work from home, including in another time zone, has concrete advantages. You aren’t going to give you on it.
Luckily, team management tools and exercises can solve this issue. They increase bonding and commitment when geography is against you. Check our favorites below.
Implement team-bonding exercises
Exercises are activities you can implement any time and at zero or low cost. They help you to inspire your telecommuters and make them feel valued.
It’s easy to forget our manners when we are busy. But your remote workers must feel there is a human being on the other side of the screen. Start each contact by creating a personal connection. Ask about their weekend, how their children are doing in school. One minute of relaxed conversation will do.
Promote brainstorming sessions
While it is good that meetings are less frequent among virtual teams, not all sessions are born bad. Brainstorming sessions, for instance, are healthy for businesses. They allow employees to interact and create something together. And they are still effective even when promoted through video conferencing.
Do work together
Doing work together is a perfect bonding exercise when applied in small doses. Find a task that you and your team member can execute online at the same time and give it a try. Just remember to explain the goal to him or her beforehand, so he or she can understand you aren’t micromanaging.
Encourage social interaction
It shouldn’t be about businesses 100% of the time. You need to create space for fun. Encourage social interaction among your virtual team when appropriate. Offer channels they can use to play online games, say happy birthday, and share photos of their pets.
Create face-to-face opportunities
Still, nothing completely replaces face-to-face interaction. For this reason, promote annual all-hands meetings, or smaller gatherings per state, region, or country. Alternatively, suggest that people who live nearby work together in coworking spaces or coffee shops from time to time.
Adopt the Best Virtual Team Management Tools
Most online tools for businesses come with collaboration features, so you might find it hard to choose one. Here is a selection you should test with your virtual team.
Slack: for everyday communication
A tool first considered too messy to be taken seriously, Slack is now adopted by many enterprises. It keeps discussions organized as you can create a channel for each subject, including for fun conversations. Slack also promotes quick communication and transparency.
Zoom: for video conferencing
Zoom left Skype behind thanks to its robust and stable service. Much more than just a video call app, it can broadcast online meetings of all sizes, all wireless and low cost. It has video recording and multiple screen sharing options, two features you won’t live without once you start using them.
Mural.ly: for visual brainstorming
Visual learners will love Mural.ly. It creates a virtual whiteboard you can use for design thinking. Everything happens on the cloud in the real time, so your remote workers can develop ideas and participate from everywhere. Use it for all kinds of brainstorming, such as product concept and online learning.
GSuite: for document collaboration
The time when you had to rename files over and over are long gone. With GSuite, your team can collaborate in real time and create or edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Sign up and you get GDrive, Gmail, Google Hangouts, and many other tools you already know, now upgraded to business level.
Gryffin: for task management
The flexibility of Gryffin is something crucial for any business managing a team of telecommuters. This project management tool helps you manage your projects and customize your task management case by case, accommodating diverse needs without hurting productivity.
It also helps you to oversee all activities more efficiently, thanks to its email, chat, and app integrations.
- Slack: Create tasks and projects without interrupting your conversation.
- Gmail: Integrate your inbox to track emails directly in Gryffin. You can attach all emails related to a specific project to it’s Project Hub. You can also send emails from your Hub, too.
- Google Drive: Automatically generate a collaboration-ready document, spreadsheet, or presentation with each new project.
Many resources are available to transform your telecommuters into a real team. We suggest you choose a combination of exercises and tools to promote collaboration and commitment. You will enjoy doing it and will see the results sooner than you expect.