Managing Virtual Teams

We are living in unpredictable times and no one knows what the impact will be on our citizens and on the world at large. The number 1 priority for many us is to look after our loved ones and extended family in a very fluid and unpredictable time.

From a business  perspective, we equally share a lot of the problems and challenges that will inevitably occur in the coming days, weeks and months. An immediate issue facing us all is managing business continuity with the majority of your staff working from home. Companies are now suddenly required to manage “virtual” teams with no processes or systems in place to support it.  One of my fellow CEO’s only yesterday questioned “how can I manage this situation when I can’t interact face-to-face with my staff?” . She is not the only person asking this question. Many CEO’s fear managing this will result in large setup costs, loss of efficiencies, cultural difficulties and loss of trust within the business. Managers also have a fear that they will be devalued by their companies when staff desks and cubicles are empty.

To be most effective in these environments, companies and managers need to do two things well:

  1. Shift from a focus on time (activity-based) to a focus on managing projects (results-based) underpinned by standard work, visual management reporting and a documented process
  2. Recognise that virtual workplaces, instead of requiring less managers, need better supervisory skills among existing managers. These need to be appropriately trained.

Taking these steps now, can result in significant improvements in productivity and in time, increased profits and better customer service.