by Alma Causey
Many digital marketing agencies are embracing the idea of a virtual team. In fact, a survey by The Workforce 2020 concluded that 83% of executives plan to hire more intermittent employees over the period of next three years. What's more, over 80% of the digital agencies agreed that using remote employees improves productivity.
A virtual team comprises of team members who live and work remotely. Virtual teams are an excellent alternative to physical teams for small businesses. They reduce the overhead costs needed to maintain a traditional office and offer flexibility to the employer.
However, with remote team members working without a centralized office, it is impossible to manage the model with traditional ideas. Managing virtual teams requires a separate set of tools and practices. Here are some of the essentials that can help you manage digital marketing through virtual teams:
1- Establish working hours and expectations beforehand
In a virtual team, people work in different time zones and environments. Thus, it is crucial to set standards and establish work hours beforehand. It will save you a lot of time as you won't be required to repeat work systems again and again.
When the team members are inducted thoroughly from the beginning, they generally have fewer questions and work with more focus. So, establish clear work systems and watch your team's productivity soar.
2- Have the best communication tools
You can't handle a virtual team without using multiple communication tools. Guide your team about the various means you will be using to get in touch with the required person immediately and for conference calls, assigning tasks, screen recordings and so on.
Two of our favorite communication tools are Slack and Hipchat, which make communication effortlessly easy between virtual teams.
3- Schedule regular meetings
People tend to lose the personal touch with each other while working from remote locations. To prevent this fallout, you should schedule regular briefings for all employees. Communicate team meeting hours clearly, so that all team members are available during that time slot.
Schedule the team meeting at the same time and same day every week, so that it creates a routine. Routines play an essential role in establishing familiarity and expectations. Plus, it will also put your team members at ease and will reduce stress. Group video calls are the best way to execute weekly team meetings because they recreate the feeling of a regular office environment.
4- Overlap working hours
Make sure that all your employees' core working hours overlap regardless of their time zones. There should be at least three to four hours in a day when all your team members are online at the same time. This is the only way to achieve instant problem-solving solutions!
5- Use video chats instead of texting and email
It may be tempting to send emails and a quick message whenever there is an issue to discuss. But avoid text-based communications as they can easily lead to misunderstandings. Try to get in touch with the person through a video call or at least a regular phone call. This way you'll be able to connect with the team members on a more personal level.
6- Use project management tools
To lead a virtual team successfully, make use of the plethora of project management and sales CRM tools available online. It is an ideal way to keep track of pending tasks and deadlines. Not only will all your employees get regular alerts and reminders, but it will also give you an overview of what everyone is doing.
7- Connect with each other
In a traditional office setup, employees get the chance to talk to each other either during lunch hour or near the water cooler. It is when both business and personal matters are discussed, which creates bonding between everyone on the team.
Many virtual teams often fail because they fail to connect with each other on a personal level. So, use a communication tool like Slack, or create a WhatsApp group where team members balance work-related conversations with fun!
8- Hire the right people
Working in a virtual team takes a lot of discipline and dedication, and not everyone is cut out for it. Therefore, ensure that you have the right people onboard.
The ideal candidate should have a history of working independently and should be accountable. Working remotely requires a proactive approach, as no manager is looking over their shoulder. Are they efficient in meeting deadlines and working on a tight schedule? Also look into your candidate's organization and communication skills. Are they comfortable to video chat in a big group?
9- Invest in employee skill training
Don’t be skeptical of investing in your employees' skill training. According to a research, companies that offer learning opportunities to their employees have 218% higher income per employee as compared to those who do not.
So, invest in your employees and help them grow. It'll be a win-win situation for everyone!
10- Appreciate good work
Lastly, don’t forget to reward your employees if they show exceptional skills. It stimulates and encourages people to work even harder and better. You can set up a reward system in advance to keep everyone motivated. Appreciate team members publicly and offer them benefits to keep their spirits high.
Apart from cost saving and increased productivity, one of the most significant benefits of developing a virtual team is the ability to hire the best talent out there. Ross Tavendale of Ideas Made Digital says, “You get the best people in the world, not the best people according to your geography.”
Being able to hire talent from anywhere in the world is an exciting prospect. Plus, it also brings diversity to the overall thought process and generates many new ideas. Having a team member from a different culture or geographic location can help you develop digital marketing strategies that are out of your comfort zone.
Hence, most online marketing agencies, like SETalks, prefer to hire a remote workforce. Have you ever worked in a virtual team? Share your experience with us in the comments below, and we'll get back to you.
About the Author:
Alma Causey is a Freelance writer by day and sports fan by night. She writes about tech education and health related issues. Live simply, give generously, watch football and a technology lover.