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How to Engage Virtual Teams

By DeVry University

February 8, 2022

6 min read

There are many perks to remote work, from eliminating your commute to adapting a more flexible schedule. But this type of work arrangement can also pose challenges, especially when it comes to keeping up momentum, productivity and good spirits among team members.

Whether you’re managing a team or leading a project, learn tips on how to engage virtual teams, increase motivation and boost company culture, all while working remotely.

7 Tips to Engage Virtual Teams

An empowered team revolves around employees feeling connected, engaged and valued. Happy employees also mean more productive employees, increased creativity among team members and can result in a better, healthier company culture. Help inspire your team to feel unified and empowered to do their best by incorporating the following tips into your daily work and leadership habits.

1. Build Relationships Based on Trust

Any good relationship starts with a foundation of trust. When employees feel that they are in a safe environment, they may feel inclined to more readily share their concerns or new ideas. Build trust with your team and the individuals on it by providing honest, yet constructive feedback on a regular basis – and be receptive to receiving it as well.

Also be sure to follow through on your promises and keep confidences when you say you will. If employees know that what they say will be listened to and respected by their leadership, they’ll be more likely to develop a solid working relationship and positive feelings toward their work and team.

2. Work with Purpose

A unified team is more effective than one where everyone is working toward different goals. Having a unified purpose ensures that everyone is aligned in their efforts and working toward the same outcome.

Along with team goals, putting together concrete development plans for each of your team members lets them know you are thinking of their career progression. You both will know where you’re going, and that you’re going together. Having their managers support can drive employees to be more present during their workday, knowing that the effort they’re putting in is helping them achieve their aspirations as well as the team’s goals.

3. Communication is Key

When it comes to figuring out how to engage virtual teams, open communication is vital to helping organizations function smoothly and maintain productivity. It can help minimize duplicate work, clarify goals and priorities and manage expectations. Making sure everyone has a clear direction can also help improve their work performance.

Communication and transparency are also essential in fostering trust, especially when it’s face to face. Scheduling regular 1:1 calls with team members ensures that concerns have the chance to be expressed and employees get their needs addressed in a confidential and receptive environment. This is also a great opportunity to provide feedback or praise to an employee.

4. Give Public Praise

While private praise can make an employee feel acknowledged by their supervisor, public praise can go a long way in demonstrating appreciation for the value that an employee adds to the team and its success. When someone does a good job, recognize them by praising them on a team call or group email. You can also encourage teammates to nominate their peers for recognition.

5. Host Virtual Events

One of the things remote teams can miss out on are team bonding experiences. To engage virtual teams while working from home, try hosting virtual events. But make sure these activities are short, well-thought out and have a purpose. Thinking about hosting virtual game sessions or trivia, create scavenger hunts made up of items your employees can find in their homes or arrange a book club or recipe swap. Planning these types of remote events can help boost your team’s mood and give them a break from work.

Feel free to switch it up, too. Encourage your team to bring craft supplies and have a craft hour, or do a virtual volunteer project such as sending virtual cards to hospital patients. Host a virtual happy hour to celebrate the end of a big project or make yearly reviews more fun by hosting a mini virtual award show, making sure each team member feels appreciated for their unique contributions.

6. Don’t Micromanage

Proximity is an advantage when it comes to connecting with your team in an office setting, but for virtual teams, too much contact can feel like micromanaging. While it’s tempting to check in frequently to monitor progress, trust your team to manage their own schedules and get their work done. Giving your employees this kind of freedom can encourage feelings of empowerment and further develop a relationship of trust and personal accountability. Just be sure that you are available for questions or additional help and provide your team with the tools and resources they need to do their jobs.

7. Promote Flexible Work Schedules

If the type of work you do is flexible, consider letting your employees control their own work schedules. Allowing your employees the opportunity to take a break, attend appointments or participate in life events during their workday can help employees manage their mental health, control burnout and maintain their physical wellbeing. Feeling in control of their life can help boost morale and make employees feel more inclined to invest themselves in their work.

Grow Your Leadership Skills at DeVry

Hone your skills and expand your horizons by pursuing an education at DeVry. With undergraduate and graduate-level degree and certificate programs in a variety of disciplines, you’ll have the opportunity to learn from industry-experienced faculty and have support from our robust career resources team while you’re in school and after you graduate. Earn your degree 100% online and on your schedule. Classes start every 8 weeks.

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