Working with a 100% virtual team means lower overhead costs, flexible work schedules, and agility that's not accessible to traditional companies.
But it takes effort and focus to make it work. In this article, we'll cover the tips, tricks, and tools that work best for us.
Best Practices for Remote Teams
To see how our team operates, I'll walk you through how each aspect of our company works, and how we can manage it with a completely virtual team. Links to all these tools are at the end of this article!
1. Use the Right Tools
One key to a successful virtual team is using the right tools for the right jobs. There are some tools we use that we wouldn't if we were all in the same building. Email is of course one of the mainstays for collaborating, keeping up-to-date, and sharing information.
But we also use Slack, a shared instant message system that allows our administration team to chat with each other whenever anyone of us is online. And Join.me is our go-to for video conference calls. We manage some common scheduling with a shared Google Calendar.
And nothing beats a good old fashioned phone call or text when something is urgent.
We also use DropBox and Evernote to store and share documents, as well as our CRM tool to keep track of projects and clients. ApplicantPro helps us get the ball rolling on our hiring process.
2. Team Meetings
Keeping up-to-date with the team's projects and accomplishments is a must, especially when your team is remote.
Regular conference calls allow the whole team to say hello face-to-virtual-face while we talk about what we've been working on, and give updates on projects and goals.
Good communication is a good idea for any company. With a virtual team, it's a requirement.
Figure out the best methods and tools for your team, and create some guidelines for using each one. In our company, our administrative team is typically logged into Slack when they're on the clock so we can chat with each other easily.
Email is the go-to for longer conversations that involve detailed information. And quick phone calls happen as needed.
4. Access to Shared Documents
Using a system like Evernote or DropBox to share documents is an easy way for remote teams to collaborate across the miles.
When there is no shared intranet to connect to, cloud-based systems like these help virtual teams stay on the same page, literally.
5. Relationships & Trust
Much of the risk and worry of working with a virtual team is dealt with simply by hiring the right people in the first place. When you hire people you trust and take the time to develop friendly relationships, work flows much easier.
When there's not the daily option of chatting around the water cooler as in a brick-and-mortar business, it's important to keep in touch for those friendly "how are you" chats every once in a while.
6. Work Schedules
One of the greatest benefits of a remote team is the ability for employees to set their own working hours. However, this can also be a sore spot for business.
Some positions depend on employees being available at a moments' notice, but if someone's taking the day off, or on a break, they won't always be available.
To work with flexible schedules, everyone should be in contact about when they'll be available or not. Tracking this is easy with a shared calendar.
Links to Our Favorite Tools for Virtual Teams
- Slack: Instant messaging system for private or group conversations
- Join.me: For video conference calls and screen sharing
- DropBox: Secure cloud application for storing shared documents with your team
- Evernote: A great tool to collect links, images, ideas, tasks and notes all in one place. Documents can be private or shared with members of your team.
- ApplicantPro: Streamlined system for applicant tracking, vetting, hiring, and onboarding