4 Tips for Managing Virtual Workers

June 16, 2012 Business Thinking

For those of us who have portable careers, in which our office is wherever we want it to be, working from home is a definite blessing. Still, for those who have an established home office career, there may come a point in which you will have to manage others who you do not see on face-to-face basis every day.

In this scenario, you may begin to wish that you had a common office space to keep track of all of your workers. In the absence of a shared space, you’ll have to be that much more on top of things. Here are a few tips for managing employees over the Internet.
1.    Establish a set schedule.
As all of us who have worked from home know, there is an initial tendency to have a wacky schedule in which you work sporadically during the day and well into the night. While this may be feasible if you are going solo, when you work as part of team, you’ll have to be on somewhat similar timetables. Establish from the get-go when your workers should be available online.
2.    Standardize communication tools.
When you have a team that must collaborate in some way, you’ll have to have a set of tools with which to keep in touch with each other. In my personal opinion, using Google’s tools is the most streamlined way to do so. Using G-chat, Gmail, Google Docs, where you can edit a document in real-time, you have an entirely built-in system to communicate effectively with your workers. Of course, there are other options, some of which are listed here.
3.    Be clear about deadlines.
One of the biggest inconveniences of running a team online is that not everyone may be completely sure about what needs to get done and when. If you aren’t very particular about deadlines and guidelines, you’ll receive work from your employees at different times, which can definitely adversely affect your project as a whole. As such, be sure that you make daily, weekly, and monthly deadlines clear at the beginning of every single week.
4.    Have regular virtual meetings.
Even though you may get a chance to chat with your virtual workers independently, you won’t build a successful team unless each member really feels as though she is working together in a group. Creating a substitute for meetings in a physical space thus becomes doubly important. The easiest way to do this is to have weekly conference phone or video calls, in which you can all collaborate together. If you happen to live in the same general area, try to have face-to-face meetings at least once a month in order to establish the camaraderie necessary for successful team work to happen.
Managing a virtual team will never be easy. But if you commit yourself to being organized, responsive to your team members concerns, and, above all, you encourage your team to be as communicative as possible, you’ll be successful. Good luck!

This is a guest post by Jane Smith from background check. She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to: janesmth161 @ gmail.com