25 Tips for managing virtual teams

managing virtual teams

Do you struggle with managing virtual teams?

This team or teams may also just be remote.

It is often not easy due to

  • time differences
  • language barriers
  • cultural differences

The team at Time Doctor have put together this list of 25 tips that might assist you.

I especially love the tips relating to ‘Communication.’  You can never communicate enough with your team, and it is key to focus on this when you aren’t in the same building or vicinity.

Getting together creates bonds that make working remotely a lot easier. So consider connecting up in person at least once, if not on at least a quarterly basis.

I’ve noticed that having access to tools that allow us, as a team, to collaborate as if we were working in the same building made a big difference to the output and concept of working as ‘one.’

I’d like to add three things that I am aware of that make a difference when working with a team in a different country. Here they are:

Managing Time Differences

Managing time differences is not easy. You are on one side of the world, and the team doing a lot of the development work, for example, are on the other side.  How do you make this arrangement work effectively?

Try and find at least one hour in the day where it is possible to connect for a live video interaction.  Even if it is just a catch up to understand where things are at, and any difficulties that the team is facing.

Yes, using email is fine.  Realize though that time differences may impact on your project schedule. This is especially true if the country where the team are working is behind you time wise.

Factor additional days into your schedule.

The team in the remote site will also have to deal with not having immediate feedback for their work.  If it is possible ensure that they have work to continue with, whilst waiting for your checking, testing and feedback.  Otherwise you are losing valuable time.

Dealing with Language Differences

Language differences may create big problems on your project if you don’t manage them from the start.

Ensure that you have a member of the virtual or remote team who speaks YOUR native language.  At least then you have someone who can translate what you are wanting for the remote team.

Paying close attention to your language, the words you use, your assumptions and expectations will also help you. It will be very important to consider these things each and every time you communicate, especially if it is via email.

Also be aware that your remote team may feel even more isolated if they don’t understand what you are asking of them.

Managing Cultural Differences

Factoring any holidays that are important for your remote team is a valuable thing to do.  Ask as soon as they are engaged if there are any holidays or culturally significant days that you need to be aware of.

Understanding the cultural norms of the country you are working with, may take a little bit of research, and yet there are lots of useful resources out there to help with this.

Here are a few that might help:

Cultural differences are more complicated than what country you’re from

3 ways to identify cultural differences on a global team

Differences in cultures

If you have any other tips or tricks for working with a remote team I’d love to hear them.