The COVID-19 outbreak has accelerated the shift to remote work and expanded the use of virtual teams in the workplace. Even before the pandemic started, Nigel Frank's Survey found that 66% of professionals work from home at least one day a week.
However, Managing a remote team has unique challenges, such as poor communication and isolation among team members.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to get virtual teams right. In a seminal 2001 study of 70 such groups, the experts found that 82% fell short of their goals and 33% rated themselves as largely unsuccessful. A 2005 Deloitte study of IT projects outsourced to virtual work groups found that 66% failed to satisfy the client’s requirements.
So here AI-powered technology comes in. It becomes prevalent to solve these challenges and improve team productivity and collaboration. It can also help bridge the communication barriers often present in virtual teams.
The Benefits of AI for Virtual Teams
Before we get into the best practices for managing a virtual team, let's explore the benefits of AI for remote or virtual teams. AI-powered tools can help teams communicate more effectively while minimising the challenges of remote work. Here are some of the benefits that AI tools can provide to virtual teams:
- Automation of Repetitive Tasks: AI-powered tools can help automate repetitive tasks like scheduling meetings, sending reminders, and even answering emails. This can help teams improve their efficiency and save valuable time for more important tasks.
- Improved Communication: AI-powered tools can help improve virtual team communication by facilitating real-time conversations and document sharing. This makes it easier for teams to collaborate and stay connected, even when they are working remotely.
- Enhanced Productivity: AI-powered tools can help teams to work more efficiently by automating specific tasks and streamlining communication. This can reduce the time spent on administrative tasks, allowing team members to focus on their core responsibilities.
Best Practices for Managing a Virtual Team
To effectively manage virtual teams, we must first understand how they work. Let's explore some best practices for managing a virtual team that will help you overcome the challenges of remote work.
1. Establish Clear Communication Channels
Effective communication is key to the success of any team, particularly virtual teams. Establishing clear communication channels ensures everyone is on the same page and has access to the information they need.
So you can use chat tools, video conferencing tools like Zoom, or project management software like VirtualSpace.
2. Set Expectations and Guidelines
Virtual teams can suffer from "zoom fatigue" and overexposure to digital collaboration. One successful best practice for managing this is to set guidelines, rules, and expectations for your team.
Define productivity, estimate realistic schedules, and create rules for each tool employees use to share documents. Creating a clear schedule of virtual meetings, deadlines, and time zones can help your team feel more organized and motivated while minimizing the possibility of confusion and missed deadlines.
3. Use AI-powered Tools to Improve Communication
As mentioned earlier, AI-powered communication tools can help improve communication and collaboration within virtual teams.
For example, you can use tools like Grammarly to eliminate typos and language barriers, which helps ensure a common understanding. With AI-powered virtual assistants, you can automate repetitive tasks such as scheduling meetings and sending reminders.
4. Encourage Team Collaboration and Engagement
Virtual teams may sometimes feel lonely and isolated, leading to disengagement and low morale. Encourage collaboration and engagement by creating opportunities for social interactions, such as with AI-powered tools like VirtualSpace.
Celebrate every milestone to boost company morale and optimise communication channels to enhance collaboration, engagement, and fun distractions.
5. Provide Feedback and Recognition
Regular feedback and recognition are crucial for creating a positive work environment and motivating your employees, especially in remote or virtual team settings.
Encourage regular check-ins, such as weekly or monthly, and recognise and appreciate the efforts of your team members.
Even AI-powered tools can help you, it is essential to maintain team motivation, especially when working remotely. Leaders and managers should actively celebrate wins, communicate challenges, and establish specific, measurable goals.
Managing a virtual team requires unique skills and tools to ensure effective communication and collaboration.
You can help your virtual team to be more productive starting from establishing clear communication channels to using AI-powered tools.
AI-powered tools can improve efficiency and facilitate better communication. With these best practices and tools, your virtual team can be just as productive, or even more so, than any traditional on-site team, especially when dealing with “zoom fatigue” and a lack of social interactions.