Tips for managing a virtual team

Working from home can be beneficial for everyone.

However, not everyone can.

Working from home may not be an option for every role.

Find out about how to stay in touch and how to set up your virtual team.

Employees and managers can find out more about working from home and work arrangements.

Your role

As a manager, you must maintain your core business.

You will need to plan and manage your teams to achieve this.

You can manage a virtual team successfully by:

  • identifying workloads
  • supporting your team
  • trusting that the work will get done.

Your role is to:

  • drive work progress
  • manage performance.

You should role model the behaviour you want to see more of.

Read below for more help with managing your virtual team.

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You should take a team based approach.

You can do this by:

  • identifying the outcomes and outputs that need to be delivered
  • challenging assumptions about jobs/work 
    • what is the best way to achieve outcomes
  • identifying other flexibility options for team members that will best deliver results for the organisation, customers, team and individuals.

You should record all your decisions so you can track and report on progress.

Work redesign

You should be open-minded and flexible in your thinking.

You can do this by:

  • challenging the idea that work is fixed
  • doing work differently
  • negotiating customer/client expectations if needed
  • taking a big picture view of your team.

You should set guidelines with your team.

You should work with your team to establish:

  • ‘how we work’ statements and tasks that you all commit to doing
  • communication with each other, and how.

Maintaining guidelines ensures fairness and equity. A consistent approach is important.

As a team, you should discuss and agree:

  • how your team will communicate with each other
  • when and how you will meet as a team – online or by phone
  • how you will know when each other is working
    • create a shared calendar.

You won’t be able to rely on non-verbal clues to assess how team members are feeling, and your team’s workload.

You should all agree on a work performance evaluation criteria.

This could include:

  • work objectives and milestones: are they specific, measurable and attainable
  • activities and tasks needed
  • expected results and outcomes – not just task, but to what standard.

Other stakeholders

Identify key contacts or stakeholders and tell them of the change to your team.

You should let them know:

  • how the team will now work
  • availability of staff
  • changes to work days and or hours.

You can set your team up for success.

Make sure your team has the tools they need to work from home.

You can get the most of your team working from home by modifying any processes if you can.

You should discuss their work space at home. Is it free from distraction? This can make it difficult to concentrate.

Work health and safety a shared responsibility. Encourage your team to think through how they can create a safe, sustainable and pleasant workspace.

Check-in with your team daily. Ask them:

  • how they are going
  • is anything getting in the way of them doing their jobs.

Meet with your team regularly and discuss:

  • work habits and demands
    • buddies to support each other with tasks
  • setting clear, measurable goals for tasks and projects
  • reinforcing deadlines, quality of work and being on time to meetings
  • making sure clients know when and how to reach you
  • how work is assigned - keep the whole team updated on allocation of work
  • when you want the team to check in with you
  • agree on team working hours, including what happens after hours or if a staff member is away
  • providing an end of day summary
    • this acknowledges accomplishments, reviews progress and work allocations for the next day
  • setting daily/weekly individual and team meetings
  • share ideas on time management
  • collect and review flexible working hours/time sheets
  • decide as a team how you will tell the rest of the team when they are unavailable.

You can maintain staff morale and keep them motivated by staying connected with your team.

You don’t have to always talk about targets or deadlines.

To help keep up morale, you can:

  • remind your team how their work feeds into the bigger picture
  • always recognise when they’ve done a good job
  • monitor your team’s workload
  • ensure team balance meeting deadlines with taking breaks
  • check on their wellbeing - ask about their day
  • host a virtual birthday celebration for team members.

Don’t assume everyone will know how things are done. For example, using IT, managing distractions etc.

Keep the team’s learning and development on the agenda.

There are still online courses, useful websites and webinars available.

You should ask your team what they need from you. Be available.

Training providers are rapidly moving their face-to-face training to virtual/online delivery.

You should keep having conversations with your staff about their development needs.

Below are some learning providers.

LinkedIn Learning

An online educational platform for learners to develop in:

  • business
  • technology-related
  • creative skills.

LinkedIn is delivered through expert-led course video tutorials.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

MOOCs are available online and often free of charge.

You can enrol in online courses.

Some are delivered by institutions such as Harvard, Stanford, and Monash University.

Open Universities Australia has also developed its own MOOCs.

Many of their courses courses are pre-recorded videos that are streamed by users.

For more information on MOOCs, go to the Class Central website.

For more information

Contact your agency’s Learning and Development unit or OCPE’s Learning and Capability team by emailing swpd.ocpe@nt.gov.au.

Last updated: 06 April 2020

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