The definition of ”a day at the office” has taken on new meaning for many entrepreneurs.
For some companies, having the team gather at a physical location on a daily basis is critical, possibly because the in-person management model is most comfortable for the business owners or because the constant collaboration and teamwork are necessary.
Yet other businesses, in all industries and stages of development, are increasingly incorporating the concept of virtual work into their business models in order to cut costs and maximize resources. The recent boom in co-working and shared office space options has added to this trend, giving virtual workers an alternative to coffee shops and home offices.
But keep in mind that managing a virtual workforce has its own set of unique challenges. It can be hard to keep track of what everyone’s working on. Similarly, without the ability to stop by someone’s office, it can be hard to keep a constant finger on the pulse of employee morale.
Therefore, here are three ways to successfully manage a virtual team.
1. Utilize collaboration and cloud-based tools.
Caroline Green, Principal of IvanExpert, a Mac-focused IT support and consulting firm, finds that giving her team access to collaboration and document-sharing tools goes a long way in keeping everyone focused.
Instead of walking through presentations over the phone, she chooses to use programs like Join.me, GoToMeeting or WebEx so that she can move through material point by point without losing anybody. She also tries to avoid the confusion of having multiple versions of documents emailed back and forth by leveraging tools like GoogleDocs and DropBox. And of course, shared calendar programs like iCloud offer an easy way for the whole team to keep track of important milestones and meetings.
2. Reward people, virtually or otherwise.
For David Shor, Founder of PLACEMENTSmedia, a full-service digital marketing agency focused on customer acquisition and retention, having a virtual workforce has kept his team focused on productivity.
He keeps a close eye on billable hours and other meaningful metrics, as opposed to who’s clocking in what hours at his office. He and his management team believe in expressing appreciation and rewarding people for a job well done, particularly as his company goes through period of growth.