In March 2020, millions of companies switched to remote work as the countries enforced lockdowns and social distancing measures to combat the Covid-19 virus. As the pandemic continued to keep us at home for months on end, businesses onboarded new team members virtually and employed globally distributed teams.
Brucira switched to remote work for all its team members a week before India enforced one of the world’s strictest lockdowns. The switch wasn’t easy, but it was made smoother by the development of Brutask, a tool we built a day before the lockdown. A simple to-do list app for small teams like ours, we wanted a way to share our daily progress and updates without having to jump on several calls every day.
In 2020, seven new members joined Brucira, now a pan-India team. Just before 2020 ended, we launched Brutask to share an effective virtual team task management app with everyone else. Today, we’re taking our insight and learnings from the past year to share strategies that will help you manage your virtual team better.
Create a work system
Whether it’s choosing the right work hours or allowing asynchronous work, setting the right expectations from the get-go can create a more collaborative atmosphere. Establish work systems — set clear expectations about similar tasks to eliminate questions. Similarly, take the time to set up regular check-ins with your team so you can gauge progress.
At Brucira, we usually have a stand-up call every morning where managers will go over the daily tasks on Brutask. Sometimes, these calls are held by the department — design, development, marketing, among others for a closer look at what needs to get done. At the end of the workday, we have a wrap-up call where we check off the tasks we completed and prioritize the important tasks for the next workday. These calls help managers understand what’s on everyone’s plate and who can take on more. Similarly, the task updates on Brutask coupled with the manager view allow team members to work autonomously without compromising on updates.
Use project management tools
Project managers for virtual teams have to ensure they’re on top of everyone’s tasks and updates. This is where project management tools can come in handy. Tools like Notion and Trello can be helpful to store information and create timelines for projects. Others, like Google Drive and Dropbox, can make it easy to share files and documents within moments to ensure everyone’s on the same page.
We’re a product design agency, so we use several tools between different departments to work asynchronously. Project management tools help us keep track of deadlines and help with the delegation of tasks. For instance, we have a Trello board for the feedback we get from ruttl users, which is updated automatically. The developers and designers are tagged and notified about a new task to complete when added to the specific feedback card, making it easy to track.
Leverage communication tools
Communication is key to managing a virtual team effectively. Unless the team is distributed globally and setting their hours, tools like Slack, Miro, Zoom, and Teams are essential for instant communication. Whether it’s working with clients or different teams within the same company, these tools can reduce communication blocks.
Another thing to note is that communication tools shouldn’t be for work alone. Virtual teams should also get the opportunity to bond and socialize with each other. Unlike in-office teams, where you could take lunches and coffee breaks, breaking the ice with a virtual team can be difficult.
We have separate channels on our Slack that encourage Brucira’s team members to share whatever they want. From updates and discussions about a popular anime everyone’s watching to playing Secret Santa over Christmas, team members have ample opportunities to build both personal and professional relationships.
Share clear and precise feedback
Clear feedback and communication go hand in hand. Communicating what needs to be done, what needs to be reworked, and what needs to be changed completely is an everyday aspect of work. Virtual teams also have to work on projects that require changes, so sharing precise feedback to reduce revisions and eliminate confusion is vital for success.
Every team faces challenges. It’s not easy to resolve them without face-to-face meetings unless there is actionable feedback for improvement. Sharing constructive feedback can help team members connect with each other and their leaders, increasing overall feelings of trust and togetherness.
Support your team
Speaking of trust and togetherness, team leaders, managers, and higher-ups in the company should make every effort to support their virtual team in any way possible. Whether it’s offering professional development resources or virtual hangouts to brainstorm new ideas, promoting teamwork should be the goal.
At Brucira, to help our remote team connect with each other beyond professional needs, we started Skillful Saturday. Two Saturdays in a month, we all start the day by sharing our goals to help us upskill. At the end of the day, we share our work for meaningful feedback from the team. Every team member who shares their work is cheered and encouraged, and this promotes a feeling of growth and confidence.
Working with a virtual team isn’t as tricky as it sounds. Using the right tools and setting up suitable work systems will help you and your team work well together, no matter where in the world you’re based.
Try Brutask as your virtual team’s new task management app. Built for small teams with regular stand-ups, it’s simple and easy to use, without any extra frills.
Check it out here: www.brutask.com
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Make live edits, comment on websites, and more. Experience the future of design review here: www.ruttl.com