How to manage a global team working from home

People on a virtual video call

With the current global situation, many organizations are – for the first time – facing the challenge of managing a global team working from home.

Under normal circumstances, and with the right infrastructure, the concept of virtual working is already part of many peoples’ daily experience. However, for organizations accustomed to operating “face-to-face”, this scenario can be difficult, and employees can feel isolated very quickly.

So, how can companies make the virtual office environment work for the business, its teams and customers?

  1. Leadership
     
    Effective leadership is key and with it the need for additional amounts of empathy. That means the major focus must be on people’s well-being.
     
    One-to-one virtual meetings are important to maintain, and team leaders are accountable for making this happen. Having at least a weekly catch-up is vital to keep people informed and make them feel involved.
     
    And while it is business-focused – sharing objectives and targets – it’s also a social interaction. Take the time to chat about newfound hobbies, how you’re spending your time and any tips you’ve picked up.
     
    On a wider level, a company’s CEO is wise to conduct a virtual “Town Hall” meeting every week to share any important company developments employees should be aware of.

  2. Technology
     
    It seems obvious, but virtual working technology has to function efficiently. Without that reliability, people will stop using it and the organization soon loses control of communications.
     
    Now that video conferencing has become more widespread, it’s better if everybody involved in a meeting is visible to each other. This way you have a better insight into how people are feeling and behaving.
     
  3. Running well-organized meetings
     
    Having some agreed protocols helps bring a level of organization to your virtual meetings.
     
    For example, if it’s a “Town Hall” meeting, invite people to ask questions via the online chat function so they can be moderated. This is also useful for people who are less willing to ask questions in a public setting.

  4. Team social meetings
     
    When teams are based remotely for long periods, it can’t be all business.
     
    There needs to be a social dimension to virtual meetings when it’s just about informal chat and having a bit of fun (virtual quizzes, cooking sessions). Even getting pets involved in the more social, video calls is light relief for everybody.

  5. Alleviating work pressures
     
    When people are working without immediate access to colleagues sitting nearby, a problem can seem bigger than usual. Therefore, setting up remote work “buddies” to bounce ideas off is important. Ultimately, it’s about looking after each other.
     
    Reducing remote working pressures also means allowing flexibility. Standard working hours don’t apply in this situation as team members cope with non-work issues such as caring for young children at home.
     
    With such disrupted working patterns, it’s necessary for the team leader to be available outside normal hours to cater to everybody’s needs.

  6. Thinking ahead: the new normal
     
    Managing a remote workforce effectively now will help companies come out of this situation intact and with critical work delivered.
     
    But also, organizations should learn some valuable lessons about what makes people more effective. Colleagues will be better able to work in different time zones and handle flexible working. And, it will probably mean never again taking for granted the value of being in the same room as other people and building rapport.
     
    Having a virtual window on the personal lives and homes of people you normally see in the office actually bridges gaps; you find yourself caring more about the people around you and developing a different connection that translates to better understanding and collaboration in future.
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Comments

26 May 2020 Raghavender K
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In Practical, the Social dimension is missing and more over the timings for the group video sessions are fixed actually during the office hours and not flexible enough. if is an office (not home) the personal presence is obvious, but in home there should be flexible timings and one to one interaction should be there and yes if its a general communication to all, the town hall is the solution, once a week.
15 Jun 2020 May Ho
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Interesting point of view and useful tips, I found working remotely exposed me to areas I did not explore in the past year working with the organisations, it is true that I am socially distance from my UK based colleagues, but I am more connected with colleagues in other organisations.
15 Jun 2020 May Ho
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and yet I forgot to mention the most important factor, in other organisations in different time zones...!
30 Jun 2020 Herman Brits
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In the current Covid19 situation, remote working is a reality for all.
I am currently busy with a huge project, which became very challenging to manage due to everybody now working remotely most of the time. So very difficult to stay in contact with everybody.
To keep this project on track, I grouped tasks/functions into categories and assigned Category Managers. I then keep in regular contact with each Category Manager via Zoom Meetings.
Format of each meeting is to first have a few minutes of social interaction/motivation/etc....and then focus on the work - feedback from last meeting/current focus points/status updates/objectives for next meeting/etc.
Happy to say project remains on track. :-)
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