Video conferencing is a technology that has continued to mature and flourish. Businesses are increasingly reliant on such services for enhanced communications and real-time consulting with customers, service providers, and virtual teams. The emphasis on video conferencing is largely due to the following factors:
- Improved technology that offers more reliable video connections with high-quality images
- Mobile workforces that are located in other cities, states, or countries
- Enhanced software that continuously adds features, such as sharing links, images, and attachments
Managing teams of employees remotely is significantly easier with the implementation of video conferencing. However, managing these virtual teams effectively calls for new methods of communicating and organization.
Risks of a Remote or Mobile Workforce
With an increasing number of employees working from home, it is easy for employees to feel isolated or out of touch with other team members or management. Failure to communicate regularly with remote employees can make matters even worse. Management is also presented with the challenge of staying up to date on projects, maintaining morale, resolving HR issues, and ensuring financial initiatives are on track.
It’s important that managers and virtual teams maintain contact and understand the expectations of leadership. Each mobile team member or remote worker must have the same understanding of work hours, reporting requirements, and how and when status updates are necessary.
How to Manage Virtual Teams with Video Conferencing
Email is an invaluable tool for both personal and business communications. Phone calls and texting/instant messaging are other effective ways to connect with virtual teams, whether discussing individual concerns or conferencing with larger groups or teams.
Face-to-face connection is still the most personal and efficient way to maintain a close relationship between virtual teams and supervisors or managers. Video conferencing offers the capability to meet from anywhere using computers, tablets, or even smartphones.
Video conferencing can be utilized in several ways to manage virtual teams:
Teams should have regularly scheduled times for status meetings to discuss project issues, brainstorm solutions, and catch up on everyone’s efforts.
Keeping in touch adds value in itself. Schedule regular video chats where team members are encouraged to join in whenever they’re available. These are friendly get-togethers that are meant to be light and not focused on particular business problems. The goal of these informal sessions is to replicate a social office environment where teams discuss anything on their minds, whether that is vacation plans or personal challenges.
To enhance camaraderie and make team relationships more personal, some teams take advantage of video conferencing to show home office surroundings, pets, recipes, or even family members. This can be an opportunity for true team building, which tends to be challenging for virtual teams.
Keep these sessions light, and schedule at various times to be sensitive of different time zones. Not all team members may be able to attend every meeting but encourage attendance and participation.
Meet with Virtual Teams Regularly
Schedule regular business meetings for the virtual team. This may be weekly or monthly, but should include all members of the team. This is your chance to cover any issues, discuss personnel changes, address questions, make announcements, and provide a group review of current and coming initiatives.
These meetings will be somewhat more structured, with management leading the session, but with contributions by every participant always welcome.
Encourage feedback as well. For any video conference, it adds to the success of the session if participants know they will be expected to provide comments or thoughts at the end. This also promotes attention during the conference.
Fight the Temptation to Micromanage
When virtual teams are new to working from home, it may be tempting to take the frequency of meetings to the extreme. Avoid such micromanagement techniques and rely on teams to adjust to their new surroundings professionally.
Let teams know when and how to best reach management or at what times different methods—such as text, instant messaging, phone, or email—are most appropriate. While you don’t want employees to feel alienated, you don’t want them to feel over-supervised either.
Equip Your Remote Team with Video Conferencing Tools
Communication is crucial in any workplace. However, in today’s economic climate with shelter-in-place orders and government-mandated social distancing measures, more people are working from home, away from their colleagues, than ever before. This makes collaboration among employees challenging as frequent communication is important for virtual teams. Video conferencing fills this void when teams are provided with the necessary tools. It promotes communication between a mobile workforce, saves time, and enhances overall productivity.
CDS Office Technologies provides video conferencing communication services that allow collaboration and boost efficiency for virtual teams. We can help equip teams with computers, laptops, or other devices to facilitate an efficient work-from-home environment. With advancements in cloud-hosted business phone system technology, we can even provide highly sophisticated, extension-based phone systems that can turn smart phones or laptops into fully functioning business phones.
Contact CDS today to discuss how video conferencing can enhance communication with your virtual team. We also offer free, no obligation, no commitment consultations for any business needing to implement work-from-home solutions.