Virtual teams are all the rage these days. Remote working employees offer a revolutionary set of benefits for their employers. For instance, the cost of having an employee at an office is completely eliminated. Moreover, by hiring employees in different parts of the World, employers are cutting down on taxes and labour costs.

On the other hand, even virtual employees enjoy non-existent commutes, working in their comfort zones, and a better work-life balance. A number of studies show how this concept of telecommuting is rapidly gaining traction

While working virtually is great, it comes with a set of challenges. The most pressing challenge being monitoring and enhancing the productivity of virtual teams. If you too are managing one or more virtual teams, try the following tips to ensure maximum productivity out of your virtual colleagues:

Incorporate Icebreaker Sessions and Team Building A major and obvious reason for poor productivity in virtual teams is the lack of cohesion that is visible in teams that work in the same physical office. In most cases, there are no ice-breaking sessions among virtual teams which can easily alienate the team members. Unlike employees working in the same geographical locations, virtual team members never get the chance to physically meet their counterparts and build relationships.

However, this shouldn’t stop you from taking team building initiatives on your end. While it is apparent that these efforts would be more intentional in case of remote employees, they will have a similar effect nonetheless. If your team members happen to be in the same city, organising a team building days regularly is a surefire way to build cohesion.

If your team is in different parts of the World, there are still a number of ways to undertake team building initiatives that will instill a sense of belonging into your team members.

Make Use Of Online collaboration spaces Sending email trails to your team members is certainly not the way to juice out productivity. In fact, this is one way to isolate your employees and prevent them from working as members of a team working towards a common goal.

Online collaboration spaces allow team members to update their work, along with their ideas on a common platform. Since your teams don’t have a place to meet and discuss their work, ideas, and progress everyday, a virtual collaboration space is ideal to facilitate communication, and of course, collaboration. Basecamp is a great tool for this purpose.

Monitor Progress As with all teams, monitoring progress and productivity is vital. Since your team members are working virtually, and in many cases, from the comfort of their homes, getting distracted is easy.

Making use of progress monitoring tools like Hubstaff can help you track the amount of time your employees are working, and the amount of time taken to complete a given task. This information can be extremely useful when it comes to sustaining and improving productivity in the long run.

Respect Work-Life Balance And Time Zone Differences Lastly, it is extremely important to understand and realise the different time zones your team members may be working in, along with respecting their work-life balance. Try to plan deadlines and meetings so that team members in different time zones are able to participate without going through too much trouble.

Similarly, it is important to limit work-related emails and messages to set business hours. After all, nobody likes their boss meandering in their lives post-work hours. The case is no different for virtual teams.

Conclusion Virtual teams are usually extremely efficient. However, in any scenario, a team is only as good as the management. If you are able to manage your teams efficiently, they are going to perform efficiently.

Mitch Carvalho

A full-time home-based Marketing Manager by day, 24/7 Mom, and a Blogger at any time. I’m 43 and proud. Mom of Derelle & Erchelle, sharing my adventures as I walk through motherhood and having to do most things on my own while my Indian national husband works miles away from home.