How to work with a virtual team
A virtual team is an affordable way to grow your business. In this article I’ll share my own story, as well as how to create a productive and successful team.
Our shoestring beginning
I started the business with my husband over two years ago, financed from the proceeds of our recently sold newish car – it was tight, to say the least. There was no bread winner for a while and we managed on a shoestring budget. Our office space was a fold away desk in our bedroom!
We grew our team, affordably
We had to be creative about growing a team but without the confines and cost base of renting traditional office space. I had the benefit of knowing that working from home can be done successfully, having worked this way for many years. So we grew a virtual team.
Our virtual team are happy and productive
Today, I have virtual team members in Sydney, Melbourne and also Dubai. My team have flexibility and autonomy, and another benefit is that they have less childcare costs. In fact, if I was to rent office space now, I suspect I’d need to bribe my team to come and join me!
"Taking this virtual approach has saved us approximately $135,000 over the past two years."
It has saved us a lot of money
I have calculated that taking this virtual approach has saved us approximately $135,000 over the past two years, which is good for our bottom line. If we need space for meetings, we hire serviced offices.
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How to have a productive and successful virtual team
- Be clear about instructions, and ensure that staff are accountable
- Stay regularly connected
- Utilise tools
- Have face-to-face contact as well
- Be aware of Workplace Health & Safety (WH&S)
Set tasks that focus on a specific outcome, and be clear about when you want the tasks finished. Introduce a weekly report for your staff to complete, confirming the work they’ve done. This is a great way to stay on top of what everyone is working on, as well as keeping all staff members accountable.
Being a virtual team does not mean that you work in isolation. You need to be in regular contact with your employees both in ‘one on one’ situations and team meetings. We use a locked LinkedIn group to collaborate as a group.
I recommend tools such as Skype to maintain visual contact during calls. Skype is also free. We use GoToMeeting for running orientations and webinars with multiple participants. While this has a monthly cost, it is worth every cent.
We have four physical catch ups per year, comprising of two half day sessions to share knowledge and discuss financials and focus; and two casual lunches.
This is one area of caution for all businesses with a virtual team. You still have a duty of care from a WH&S perspective. I recommend self-audits and education to reduce the risk of injury.
If you implement some of my suggested tips you’ll have a productive and successful team helping to grow your business. Give it a go – you won’t regret it!
What are your tips for working with a virtual team?