The number of people working remotely has, not surprisingly, shot up since the start of the pandemic, and it is looking likely that levels will remain high for some time. Working remotely brings with it some great benefits – increased flexibility, increased productivity, and generally a better work-life balance. There is always a flip side though, and today we are going to explore 5 of the common challenges of virtual teams, and how as a business owner you can navigate these.
1. Reduced levels of communication
This is the most common challenge that businesses have had to face. It has been difficult to facilitate the transition of staff from an office where communication is open and easy, to everyone working from home. Even those who have been fortunate enough to start a new job during the pandemic may still have not actually met their coworkers a year down the line!
The best way to make sure that your team are fully supported is firstly to ensure they have all the equipment they need. Everyone should be using the same communication software, and it is also important that the whole team knows the hours that everyone is working. That way deadlines won’t be missed and if you create a priority system using something like Trello that will help to keep your team on track.
2. No shared mailing box
It may be worth investing in virtual mailing addresses for some of your key members of administrative staff. This will help to reduce the number of people who are working from the office, as they won’t need to be there to receive mail and parcels. With a local virtual office like the ones we offer here at Venture Offices, a virtual address is very easy to get set up.
Sending confidential information to a remote team member’s home address is not secure, and could open up a plethora of data protection issues. By allocating virtual addresses to those members of staff who live close to each other, you can monitor deliveries much more easily.
3. Lack of face-to-face interaction
We are all missing those normal coffee breaks and water-cooler catch-ups. Sending texts and emails are a much quicker way to communicate, but make sure your team have some video conferences scheduled as well. Even if it is just on a Friday afternoon for a chilled non-work related chat to help them unwind for the weekend.
Body language can play a really big part in the flow of a conversation, which is another reason why software such as Zoom has become really popular throughout the pandemic. Over 70% of our message is non-verbal communication, so your team will be missing out on over two-thirds of a conversation with the removal of face-to-face interaction!
4. Not having access to vital resources
Hopefully this will have been the first thing that you looked at when your team started working remotely. Without the regular daily chats with your staff it can be hard to know what resources they need in order to get their job done. It is important to have regular check-ins and ask them if they have everything they need. After all, if they don’t have the right tools, they can’t do their job properly.
If you find that some of your staff are lacking the resources they need, such as no or very weak internet connection, you might want to consider letting them work from a virtual office. This will allow them to experience the normal quiet working environment, but also be able to meet with other professionals too. Team members that live close to each other could even meet up at virtual offices to work together on a project.
5. Messy project management
Almost every business had to undergo an audit of their internal processes when lockdown was first announced. The transition to a more digital way of working was a struggle for many of the traditional businesses, but seamless for those who were already familiar with remote working. By taking the time to put the right processes in place, and ensure that your staff know exactly how to use the new tools, your business will continue to run smoothly even without being in the office.