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8 Tips for Successful Virtual Teams

Updated: Feb 1, 2021

Facilitating, a virtual team, doesn't need to mean Zoom fatigue and disconnection. With lockdowns being imposing around the world again, Teams, Leaders and Organisations are embracing virtual working as the new normal. Learn how to adjust your mindset and make a few changes to be a successful Virtual Team.

Create Human Connections

The absence of human connection is disconnection. Hanging around the coffee machine was a great place for informal get-togethers and connections in a virtual environment takes a little more effort.

  • Dedicate the beginning of every meeting to connecting, here are some of these suggestions:

    • What're your highs and lows this week

    • Check-in; how are you feeling and compare it to the weather

    • Share something funny that happened to you this week.

    • Two words that describe how you feel right now

    • All wear your favourite/funniest hat at the meeting.

    • Have each person show a virtual background from a place they love and have them talk to it.

  • Create a virtual happy hour and use Zoom breakout rooms for small catch-ups chat

  • Hold an Open Zoom morning/afternoon, where you leave Zoom open, and anyone can jump on at any time and ask questions.

  • Encourage working buddies where two people get together on Zoom for an hour or two and work. They can work independently, help each other to keep focus and be accountable and be there to bounce ideas off.

Meetings you want to join!

Online meetings can cause you to switch off and start multi-tasking. To keep them exciting and focused here are some tips:

  • Only invite those that are necessary.

  • Use your Team agreement to outline what is essential for meetings:

    • Respectful tone and keep to the agreed time.

    • One conversation at a time

    • No interrupting or talking over each other. This is a great time to practice active listening and listen to what the other person is saying instead of preparing what you will say next.

  • Use visuals to keep engagement such as whiteboards, Miro /Jamboard. This way, the meeting becomes more interactive.

  • Revolve the meeting leader role, which will allow more involvement of the team, create development opportunities and bring different perspectives.

Set Clear Goals & Objectives

When working virtually, it is easy for team members to lose sight of their goals. Creating a clear direction for the team over a fixed period give focused clarity on the direction and what needs to be achieved.

  • I love Partick Lencionci Thematic Goal Model, which focuses on creating a clear focused goal that answers the question "what is most important now?" Encourage everyone to be involved and have a productive debate.

  • Agree 4-6 objectives that are critical to delivering this goal and ensure consistent updates on the progress to keep continued focus. Make use of technology to help.

  • Ensure that each person has the necessary tools and information to be a successful and encourage the team members to ask for what they need. Support them to be responsible for their success.

Balance Blended Working

With home and work life now blended into the same space for many people, the challenge becomes how to ensure productivity while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

  • Allow people to have flexible schedules that also enables them to support their family or other things in their life. Allow them to create their working day to suit their needs, and they will be less stressed and feel more empowered.

  • Create a period of time where you are all available to ensure you can collaborate.

  • Dedicate meeting time to discuss what constraints each person has that could impact their delivery and be empathetic to these pressures.

  • Getting fresh air, moving, taking breaks working in smaller chunks allows for better focus and improves productivity,

  • Maintaining healthy nutrition and hydration keeps your energy balanced and sustains focus. It can be easy to fall into a habit of continually snacking so before reaching for the snack, wait 5 minutes and ask yourself if you are hungry.

  • Encourage everyone to get dedicated offline time.

Agree ways of Working

Whether you are working virtually or face-to-face it is a great idea to agree on the ways of working for the team, it helps to understand what behaviours are acceptable.

  • If the team is on different time-zones, agree how you will honour each time-zones for meetings, emails and deliverables.

  • Agree realistic response times for emails or other deliverables based on team constraints and time-zones.

  • Be clear on roles and responsibilities, empowering the team to work with minimal guidance.

  • Create together "Team Agreements" to set clear expectations of how you want to operate as a team. Start every meeting reviewing the agreements to ensure they still stand and if someone is not adhering to these behaviours, call them out.

Set Consistent Communication

Communication a method to continually remind the team of what is important and to get feedback on how everyone is progressing.

  • Have regular 1:1 meetings with each of the team members to check-in, listen to how they are doing and what support they need.

  • Have weekly team meetings to connect the team and provide updates to everyone at the same time. These are an excellent time for everyone to practice active listening.

  • Don't be afraid to over-communicate however, do ensure that your not flooding them with emails, use different methods of communicating.

  • Make use of Slack, Skype, project tools and other mediums to keep teams up to date.

Build-in Motivation Moments

Keeping a virtual team motivated does not need to be a challenge

keep it human and make it fun.

  • Build trust through creating personal connections and short activities, take time to get to know each team member, how they like to work and what motivates them.

  • Empower the team to take responsibility creating a focus on performance rather than time or presence on calls.

  • Create fun moments with the team such as midday moment where everyone shares a funny moment, joke, meme with the team. Laughter is a great mood booster.

  • Create energy and creativity by encouraging the team to move while working or in meetings. Put on some music and have a dance party or have a standing or walking meeting. Moving is a great mood booster and great for brainstorming sessions.

Get Technology Support

Use technology to support collaboration, keep the team on track and clear on the goals and objectives

  • Make use of project management systems to track progress easily and be clear of tasks assignment eg Trello, Monday, Asana, Wrike. The systems will help keep everyone on the same page; however, to get the benefits from the systems, everyone must use it and keep it updated.

  • Use collaborative documents for Spreadsheets, Powerpoints - allowing everyone to update at the same time.

  • Up-skill everyone, so they have excellent system and virtual meeting skills.


About the Author

Debbie Brupbacher : CPCC, ACC

Debbie is a Transformation Coach providing experiential workshops and coaching for teams and leaders to thrive and supporting them to understand the complexity of team dynamics and create an environment where their teams do not just work together but also deliver optimal results. To find out more


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