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Managing a Virtual Team

Are you reading this from the comfort of your home office? There’s a good chance the answer is a resounding YES! Our current, unprecedented state of the world has changed how offices everywhere are structured. Many companies, like St. Louis-based Square, are beginning to allow employees to work from home indefinitely. Others are adopting hybrid models or encouraging employees to work virtually until the pandemic is under control.

If your company has made the switch and now you’re faced with the new challenge of managing your team from outside of your normal office space, we’re here to help!

Since our humble beginnings in 2010, every single member of our team has worked remotely. With almost non-existent staff turnover, it’s safe to say that we’ve gotten into our groove and have a lot of great tips and tricks when it comes to managing a virtual team. Our staff is able to meet our deadlines, go over and above for our customers, and create a feeling of camaraderie, even while distanced. Many employees are parents, have families, and obligations outside of work. How do staff members balance all of these tasks? How does our management team oversee operations and trust that employees get the job done? It all starts from the beginning.

When seeking any new addition to 100th Monkey, we carefully choose employees who have traits that lend themselves to an entrepreneurial spirit. We have to fully trust that, with some guidance and training, the individuals we choose to hire can grasp concepts very quickly, and run with the client. They have to be organized, reliable, and thoughtful, among other traits. Employees who are not responsible, fully-formed adults need not apply. Yes, we said it! Remote work is NOT for everyone. And that’s okay!

Building a team with a diverse background and interests is very important as well. Good virtual employees come from all walks of life and bring fresh ideas to the table. Mixing different personality types and professional backgrounds is an excellent idea. Here on the 100th Monkey team, we have social media wizards, competent copywriters, on-the-ball organizers, and data junkies. Each person brings a new angle to inspect a concept or issue, which speeds up our business process tremendously. When one employee is in a crunch, the team can work together to find a quick solution.

If you’re a manager who thinks that there are some (or many) of your team members that don’t possess the skills described so far, don’t fret. Many employees might not have experience working from home. It can take time and elbow grease to get there, but it is possible.

From a management perspective, understanding your team is crucial. What are their strengths and weaknesses? Do they have career goals that should be discussed? What about interests in new tasks or job duties? Have you asked them about their hobbies outside of work? Digging deep to get answers to these questions can put you on the right path to successfully managing your remote team.

Regular cadence with your lineup is very important. Have regular meetings (virtually!) where you can discuss operations and tasks as a group, as well as individual one-on-one meetings. The frequency with which these meetings happen is really up to you and depends on the team itself. At 100th Monkey, we have hour-long meetings with our staff each month. In these meetings, all employees are encouraged to discuss ideas, roadblocks, and issues. However, we know that there are things that may pop up outside of our scheduled meeting times. Every employee knows that they can reach management and colleagues whenever they feel the need. Over the years, this has greatly helped to establish our bonds as partners. As managers, we have made our employee relationships open and communicative. We can ban together for anything that pops up, when it pops up.

All of that is to say: communication is key when managing a remote team. There are different ways to communicate virtually, and different employees communicate in different ways. It’s important to know how each team member sends and receives communications. Reach out to them in the best way for them.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the best ways to keep employees engaged, understood, and heard while working remotely. If you need more tips and ideas, feel free to send us a message! We can help you navigate this new experience in a way that is fun and comfortable!