By Kelly Gerrish
In our office, we all work in the same building. In fact, we work so close together that often we just direct a question across the office rather than walking over or emailing. We have casual, informal contact points everyday. We see pictures on one another’s desks and we know about each other’s weekend plans. In short, we know each other which helps us trust each other.
Take the same group of people, spread them across the world and put them in different time zones. Limit their ability to sync up on the phone to once a week and their face-to-face time to once a year, if ever. Suddenly these same teammates may begin to doubt one another. There’s no way around it – trust is easier close up.
But virtual teaming is the reality of our future. For many of us, it’s our reality now. So we need to create trust even from afar. Here are 7 tips to help your virtual team work better together.
Discuss a variety of topics – not just work. Taking a few minutes to ask about their family or their weekend plans promotes teamwork.
Share time-zone burden. If someone has to get up in the middle of the night to join the meeting, rotate it so it’s fair for everyone.
Standardise communication methods. If you prefer a weekly call, ensure everyone knows this is how to brief and discuss projects.
Clarify goals, roles and expectations. There may not be a time you can sync up to ask questions later, so ensure everyone knows what their role is before you end the call.
Rotate power. Have a different team member lead the call each week to avoid one person being seen as the leader.
Communicate frequently. You may only have a weekly call but check in regularly via email.
Be reliable – do what you say you will do.
Face to face teams have numerous opportunities to clarify roles and expectations. We see and hear what others are working on, so we know if there’s any overlap. In virtual teams you have to work harder to achieve this. As trust grows, so does the team performance.