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A common problem that many leaders find challenging is managing their teams virtually. Are you struggling to manage your distracting work environment along with your team’s productivity? It is daunting. You are learning and adapting, which requires more time, more focus, and more energy.  In my work with highly complex groups, there are six main challenges to managing a virtual team effectively. Last week we discussed three of those challenges. This week, here are three more strategies and solutions for how to deal with challenges. If you missed last week’s three, you can find them here. 

Diminished Focus and Productivity. We all know those office environments have plenty of distractions of their own. But working from home has different distractions that affect productivity: the barking dog, the amazon delivery, or working with kids, partners, or spouses in the house also working. It is a lot of stimulus to quiet and then focus and be productive. If your teams thrive on collaboration, the virtual setting can hamper those efforts. 

How do you fix it? Reinforce work standards, use clear targets and goals, conduct frequent check-ins and reviews, share productivity hacks. These solutions may seem obvious, but they are easy to forget.  Some other distraction management solutions include noise-canceling software, website blockers, white noise generators, and timers. Here is a couple to try out:  Krisp, Noisli, StayFocused, and Pomodoro timers. 

Project Management:  Most teams collaborate on projects with in-person meetings and discussions. Yes, we can accomplish the same amount of meetings online, but there is a deficit in information exchange versus the collaboration that happens in person. 

How do I fix that? Project Management Tools can provide the needed structure to stay updated and on-target. Easily tracking tasks, updates, and what each person is doing eliminates confusion and distraction on the project. Everything is in one place. Here are some project management tools to check out: ClickUp, Wrike, Todoist. 

Maintaining Team Relationships. Leadership is, at its core, about people connecting with people. Fostering an environment of more heart-centered communication between owners, managers, and employees are vital to realizing better performance and improved engagement, especially when leading in a virtual environment. We have all missed out on socializing during this pandemic.  As we return to a hybrid work situation where some people are in-person, and some are not, managing team dynamics and relationships is vital to the teams’ health and productivity. Keeping everyone on the same page and also connected so that collaboration happens is essential. There is a lot of information shared at the ‘water cooler’ that is much more difficult to get virtually. Another concern is that without enough human contact, not only is collaboration affected, but members may feel demotivated – further diminishing performance. This lack of interaction can result in reduced team spirit and sometimes hesitation. Let it continue, and it will lead to a lack of trust and a non-functioning team. 

How do I fix it? Encouraging socialization and casual interactions builds friendly and collaborative relationships. And how do I do that? Try creating a team-wide informal channel or chat room for general conversation, designate a time-slot each week to catch up with what’s going on with everyone, start regular meetings with an informal session and invite coworkers to interact with each other. Not only does this help you build a “ team culture,” but it also shows them that you care about your team by building trust, which, as Harvard Business Review points out, is essential for every team, but primarily for virtual teams.

To get the best results in a virtual world, you need to do your part. Leaders can overcome the virtual challenges that hinder productivity and team culture. Implore these strategies and if you are still struggling, get help. (We do that!)  We would love to hear from you on what’s working and what’s not working for you. Connect with me on social media and join the conversation. 

Missed Part 1 of this blog? Find it HERE.

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