Career Advice » Working from home during Coronavirus » How to develop effective virtual teams

How to develop effective virtual teams

28th May 2020

While remote and homeworking have become increasingly common over the past 20 years, the global crisis caused by COVID-19 has seen home working reach the highest levels ever seen.

Many companies are already talking about significant numbers of employees continuing to work from home after the pandemic, and the CIPD’s Labour Market Outlook, published earlier this month, indicated that 61% of organisations are planning to extend homeworking significantly.

So how do you build an effective virtual team?

The CIPD’s new report ‘Developing effective virtual teams’ identifies the key challenges faced by virtual teams and provides evidence and recommendations for running effective remote teams.

Key recommendations

Find team leaders who are best suited to run virtual teams. Research has shown that humble leaders who are self-aware, willing to learn, appreciate others and are focused on others instead of themselves, make the best leaders for virtual teams.

Evidence shows that teams who use video conferencing tools such as Teams, Zoom, FaceTime and Webex fare better than teams who are using only audio or written communication, as these allow for immediate feedback and allow team members to share their views and resolve differences quickly.

However, in the current climate, while video conferencing works well for many, some workers have reached saturation level, finding an overload of video conferences draining and a source of pressure.

Virtual teams should have as large an overlap of working hours as possible, however managers should be aware that good flexible working practices mean that some people might be adopting non-standard hours, particularly in the COVID-19 environment.

Invest in team building to build team cohesion and trust. Make sure that team members share expectations, and make sure that you build in time so team members get to know each other. Encourage team members to share information about their operational context and how these affect their work.

Set up interactive teamwork training sessions and make sure you clarify roles and provide tools for co-ordination and communication.

Hold regular debriefing sessions after significant milestones have been achieved. Focus on learning and improvement, and share feedback with the team to allow it to discover lessons learned.

Get the full report.

Visit the CIPD Coronavirus hub for the latest advice, resources and guidance to help your organisation respond to Coronavirus. Resources include FAQ’s, downloadable guides and templates, videos, podcasts and webinars, all of which are free to access.

More Coronavirus advice for businesses on the nijobfinder blog.

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