4 ‘Must Dos’ When You Don’t Share Office Space

Have you been considering adding virtual team members to your staff?  This can be an excellent way to round out a team, to find qualified employees without relocation and a way to bring new ideas to your organization.  There can be hurdles along the way if you don’t set the team up for success.

We have a 100% virtual team at SoLVE.  We have found this to be the ideal way to find high quality team members who want flexibility in their day.  Finding these employees will be covered in another blog post.  Figuring out how you will manage the team needs to be done BEFORE you hire someone.

  1. Set expectations that work for YOU.  I have seen the concept of a virtual team fall apart when the owners expectations aren’t met.  Quite often this is due to the owner not setting their own expectations up front.  Setting expectations for yourself will provide the roadmap for the virtual employee.  Expectations to consider include; hours they will work, how they will communicate with you, how often will they check in or you will check in with them.  These seem like small things, but they will become major issues longterm.  Share these expectations during the interview process.  This will help you decide if the position will be a good fit for you both.
  1. Set weekly objectives.  Setting (and communicating) weekly objectives gives you the opportunity to monitor the progress of their projects.  It sets the virtual employee up for success.  They know what they need to complete and you know what they are working on.  As you work together, you can move this to bi-weekly objectives.  I wouldn’t recommend going beyond bi-weekly objectives.  It can be very difficult for the virtual employee to stay on track if anything shifts during the month.
  1. Communication is CRITICAL.  Remember, your virtual employees don’t have the ability to hear updates over their desks.  They miss out on the casual office conversations that often times provide context to decisions.  Create or use an existing communication platform.  Figure out who will be responsible for communicating and sharing information with your virtual team.  Shooting quick emails is fine, but establish a platform where documents can be shared and decisions or changes in a project can be communicated.  Again, determine whowill be responsible for sharing the information with the virtual team.
  1. Figure out how you will make the team feel  I’m sure you’ve read articles relating to employees being more satisfied when they feel connected to a larger team.  This is especially important when you have a virtual team.  There are different ways to achieve this with a bit of coordination.  Consider having virtual team members in at the same time once a quarter.  Or, you can visit them once a quarter for an in person meeting to talk about upcoming projects, their objectives and to discuss any concerns.  When all else fails, there is always Skype for weekly or monthly touch base meetings with the team.  I’ve seen outstanding virtual employees lose focus and passion when they don’t feel connected to the team and the company.  Make an effort to connect.

The world of virtual employment continues to grow and there are many advantages for considering it.  Before you start looking for your own virtual team, be sure you have considered how you will manage them.