More and more businesses are opting for a virtual office environment where employees work remotely rather than in a centralized office. It can save time and money, improve productivity, and increase process efficiencies. It also comes with its own set of challenges you must overcome. Get started with these tips on building your own virtual business environment.
7 Tips for a Virtual Business Environment that Works
With little or no meetings together in person, building a virtual team is challenging. You must cultivate a culture without direct interpersonal interaction. You must hold employees accountable without micromanaging them. All the while pursuing leads, converting clients, and servicing existing accounts. Consider these 7 tips for creating a successful virtual business environment:
1) Sell your vision.
Whether virtual or otherwise, selling your team on your vision is critical to an environment that works. Know your vision backward and forward and practice communicating it in different ways, with different terms, and at different levels of complexity. Your job is to sell it to each member of your team. You want them to own the vision themselves. Communicate it often and in many different ways such as email, text, spoken word, and in virtual environments. Let it permeate your company culture, virtual and otherwise.
2) Set expectations.
Your team needs to understand what to expect working remotely rather than in an office. What are the challenges? Advantages? What is your plan for handling challenges and optimizing advantages? With little or no interaction in person, it is vital your team has a clear understanding of their responsibilities, deadlines, and standard operating procedures. Provide clarity for tasks and projects, too.
3) Communication is key.
A clear and open system of communication is vital to your virtual business environment. Cultivate a system of clear and open communication among all members of your team and leadership. Invite input from every member. Make sure your team feels you and all your senior leadership are approachable. Use email, instant messaging, phone, video chat, or a combination of all of these.
4) Establish review process.
When you have employees working remotely, it is essential to establish measurable benchmarks, goals, and deadlines. Expectations must be set and measured. Schedule periodic reviews with each team member to gauge performance. Accountability is essential, but micromanagement is often crippling. Give your team members freedom to work within the parameters you set.
5) Encourage collaboration.
Your team is always stronger when you work together. Cultivate a culture of collaboration. Provide tools, software, and opportunities for your team to work together to improve the company. Encourage brainstorming. Develop a plan for improving your teamwork.
6) Create a virtual employee lounge.
Encourage social interaction. Explore virtual team building exercises you can use to break the monotony and grow your team. Consider starting your meetings with a 2-minute check-up. Each team member will take 2 minutes to discuss what they’re doing, what’s working, and the challenges they’re facing. Host a virtual meeting room where business meetings can be conducted, but where employees can also connect at a social level. Post periodic get-to-know-you questions and encourage everyone to participate. Social interaction creates a cohesiveness you won’t otherwise have.
7) Invest in your IT.
Research the best collaborative technologies and your overall IT infrastructure. Your equipment (computers, laptops, tablets, and other devices) and your software is the framework your business is built on. Invest in solid devices, software, and technologies. Keep them optimized and up to date. Make sure you maintain solid network security. Consider hiring a company specializing in managed IT services to keep your technology infrastructure running smoothly and at peak capacity.
Develop Your Team
There are many advantages to having employees who work remotely. Saving time and money are just two of them. However, there are also many challenges when working in a virtual business environment. Use this guide to get started growing your team and keeping your business on the right track. Contact Us for more information on how managed IT services will help your business continue moving forward.