6 Tips For Building Virtual Team Culture
At Social Link we live, work, and go virtual. Working as “your virtual marketing department” is better for our clients (faster access to top talent), better for our teams (liberation from cubicle hell)—and we’ve proud to say, it’s a lot better for everyone’s bottom line. Even so, it’s not without challenges, particularly if your company’s used to a highly formalized or communal environment. Here’s some best practices we use to keep our own virtual team in harmony.
#1: Know Your People
Going virtual means you spend far less time in meetings. That’s great, but it also means you have to make an extra effort to get the team acquainted with each other. Do they prefer working independently? Are they night owls or morning people? What’s their sense of humor?
Take time to get beyond the profile picture on your group chat. If you hear a dog barking in the background of your next conference call, don’t immediately ask them to mute—it’s a chance to learn more about an important member of their family.
Tactics: Create a Facebook group and encourage photos; post a question of the day and compare answers; devote the first few minutes of team calls to non-work matters.
#2: Keep All The Lines Open
Frequent check-ins are critical on a virtual team. Isolation is a motivation killer: it’s important to maintain one-on-one contact with individual team members, by phone as well as chat. This is particularly important in a creative culture, where freewheeling discussion often leads to unexpected breakthroughs.
Tactics: Take the call wherever possible; encourage informal conversations so you know what’s going on in everyone’s daily lives; take advantage of opportunities for face-to-face meetings.
#3: Make Them Talk to Each Other
For one-on-one conversations to be effective, they need to be happening in all directions. Encourage your team to look to each other for answers, take on task leadership, and collaborate on solutions.
Tactics: Maintain a dedicated conference line that’s available at all times; create a team chat room; designate subject matter experts so that your team knows who to call on various topics.
#4: Make Sure Everyone’s Seeing the Same Thing
To see is to know: this is how you’ll know if you picked the right collaborative tools. Meetings go much better if everyone on the call is able to share the screen.
#5: Make Sure Everyone Speaks the Same Language
Just because you all use the same words doesn’t mean you speak the same language. To a developer, a “platform” is a set of software tools; to an advertising creative, a “platform” is a brand positioning. Your team members may be coming to you from vastly different work cultures, or even from different countries. It’s worth the time it takes to understand the fine nuances of each other’s terminology.
Tactics: Encourage overexplaining; ask people to explain their terms; choose a common term for everything and make sure everyone sticks with it.
#6: Always Be Consistent
Team members may be on different time zones. Some of them work in remote offices while others are used to working alone. People will inevitably develop independent working styles and you should encourage them to do so: that’s how you get great results. At the same time, remote teams function more effectively if they know what to expect, whether it’s the start time for a group chat or the folder where you find all the briefing materials.
Tactics: Don’t cancel a meeting if there’s nothing to discuss, just keep it short; make sure everyone knows before meetings what part they’re expected to play, and how to prepare.
Need a virtual marketing department of your own? At Social Link, we’ve got access to a deep base of talented people who love to work virtually and would love to work with you. Get in touch and let’s get started!
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