Virtual teams are the new rage in the business world. Many famous digital companies, like Basecamp, Zapier and Buffer, work with completely remote teams. Research has shown that remote work improves productivity, increases employee efficiency, reduces stress levels and even cuts down employee turnover. According to a 2015 PGi Global Telework Survey, almost 79 percent of the surveyed knowledge workers around the world work outside the office. About 60 percent of the rest said that they would leave their existing job for a similar job, at the same pay rate, if they could work from home full-time.
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The increase in the number of virtual teams worldwide is fostering the growth of a new kind of collaborative work economy like never before. With the technological growth that has come our way, it is easier than ever to work with a team irrespective of their locations or time zones. As an entrepreneur, it is important to make sure that your team is productive and generates the required output for the growth of your business. So, here are a few tips on how to manage your virtual team efficiently and make sure they are at their productive best, with the help of a few apps:
Ensure open and effective communication
The main argument raised by those against the remote working culture is that not meeting your team every day can hamper clear communication. However, this issue can be done away with apps like Slack, Skype and Google Hangouts. Such apps help create a virtual meeting place and ensure that communication between team-members is quick and efficient. You do not need to send long emails back and forth to convey your instructions or messages to your team anymore. You could use a chatting app like Slack, with which you can talk, share files, save date, sync devices and much more. You could switch to Skype or Google Hangouts when you do want to meet them face-to-face or conduct important virtual meetings.
Bring them on the same page
With project management tools like Trello, Basecamp, Asana and Pivotal Tracker, you can manage entire projects on a single app. You can manage workflows, assign tasks, track work done and hold your employees accountable for possible gaps in the system. This ensures that your operations are conducted in a transparent manner, thus saving time and increasing productivity. With apps like TeamViewer and Join.Me, you can even share your screen during virtual meetings to let your team know what exactly you are getting at.
Keep important files in one place
If you lack physical space to file your important documents, invest in a good cloud storage solution like SpiderOak or TeamDrive. Your team should be able to access files and data easily while working. For most small business, even Google Drive and Dropbox would be enough to ensure that all the important information is stored in an accessible way. If you want more security, you could use programs like BoxCryptor and Viivo, which encrypt information before uploading it.
Track working hours
In a traditional office environment, it’s easy to determine how long an employee works. But, in a virtual environment, it can be difficult to keep track of who is working on what and for how long. If you are paying your team by the hour, then tracking the time spent on each project becomes all the more important. While the amount of work completed can be tracked by the above-mentioned project management apps, the number of hours the employee spends on each task can be recorded using apps like Time Doctor and HubStaff. This will help you instil a sense of discipline in your team and is sure to come in handy while calculating your team’s salaries at the end of the month. You can also identify your star workers depending on the time each employee takes to finish a task and assign different employees with varied degrees of responsibilities.
Trusting your employees is the first step towards building a successful remote team. On that foundation, build a good working structure using the above-mentioned apps. However, take care not to go overboard by making your employees multitask with too many apps. The purpose of these apps should be to assist them in their work, not to add unnecessary tasks to their daily routine – the same ones they were probably trying to get away from by choosing to work remotely.
So, what are the apps that you use to manage your virtual team? Let us know in the comments below.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)