How to Monitor and Increase Virtual Teams Productivity?

The current pandemic situation clearly depicts the importance of having a Virtual Team on board. With all the technical advancements at its best, how you use them is all that matters. There is this generic view that ‘work from home’ is pretty simple and you can expect maximum results, but, it is not as easy as it looks due to very many reasons. With that said, let us take a look at how to monitor and increase your Virtual Teams overall productivity.

1. Organized Weekly Virtual Meetings
It is important that you organize your weekly virtual meetings carefully. The work scenario for the virtual team is completely different from the in house team. Therefore you need to think ahead even before you organize the weekly virtual meetings. The following strategic methods will help you to host weekly virtual meetings successfully:

1.1. Structurize the meeting process

Carefully structure the meeting process well in advance. It is essential that you make a presentation of the flow of the agenda of the meeting. Highlight the tasks to be done per day for the whole week. Ensure to have a backup plan figured out in case Plan A doesn’t go as per the schedule. Make sure to instruct a team member to make points during the meeting and prepare a MOM (minutes of the meeting).

1.2. Ensure the working condition of the virtual tools

Check the working of the online tools prior to the meeting. When you conduct a meeting over an online platform, there are many challenges such as:

  • Internet connectivity issues (WiFi)
  • Network issues (Data)
  • Technical glitches. Etc

Certain factors are under your control, but others are not. In that case, you need to be prepared with backup modes of communication during the meeting. This will enable you to conduct a smooth virtual meeting.

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1.3. Prepare reliable formats to track work progress

It is essential that you prepare reliable formats to keep track of the work progress. Create a simple Google SpreadSheet and add important columns that will help monitor the status of the work. This way, everyone on the team will be aware of their progress and the whole teams’ progress. Also, there are many project management tools available now, therefore, you can use them as well. Irrespective of the medium that you use, make sure you prepare a reliable format to assign and keep track of the tasks assigned. 

1.4. Be well prepared in advance

Make sure you are well prepared in advance to conduct the virtual meetings. Make sure you are ready with the following aspects:

  • Getting the acknowledgment of all your team members for a meeting time
  • Setting up of the virtual meeting invite
  • Keeping the files that you need to share with them ready
  • Assigning the tasks for each of the team members
  • Getting their easy to connect mode of communication
  • Work timings and the availability of each of the members of the team
  • Instant Messaging – Email, Chat Tools (Group chats), Video Chats, etc

Being ready with the above list of things to be prepared will enable you to carry out the virtual meetings with minimal complications and thereby all the team members will be clear of their assigned tasks. This way you can effectively increase the productivity of your Virtual Team.

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2. Maintain updated Checklists

It is crucial that you maintain checklists of all the tasks and sub-tasks. It is possible that you tend to miss out on the tasks by mistake. In order to avoid such a situation, you need to have a checklist to ensure that all the tasks are mentioned in the first place. And once you complete each task make sure to cross it over and update if any new to-dos add up. You need to be open to the agile work culture. Only then you can meet the new requirements, incorporate them and deliver the end results accordingly. 

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3. Set realistic Milestones

It is very important that you set realistic milestones. It is good to be ambitious, but, you need to make sure that your goals aren’t over-ambitious. The following steps will enable you to set realistic Milestones:

  • Know the potential of each of your team members. 
  • Fathom their performance continuously
  • Know their strong points and weak points. Not everyone will be an all-rounder
  • Set a bigger milestone for your team first
  • Then set smaller task-oriented milestones to each of the team members
  • Start setting deadlines after analyzing the above points
  • Set deadlines prior to the actual deliverable deadline of the project
  • Set task-oriented deadlines
  • Host virtual meetings periodically to monitor the work progress and to give inputs 
  • Break down the bigger goal into smaller tasks and set deadlines accordingly

Knowing your virtual team is very essential to pull off a team project successfully. Therefore, get to know your virtual team members’ skill sets better and set milestones taking that into account and the fact that the entire project management is online.

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4. Project Management Strategies

Project management is crucial to deliver the end results qualitatively and on time. Therefore, you need to work on your winning project management strategies based on the following two important criteria:

4.1. Accountability

You need to be very careful to be accountable for your professional deeds due to the fact that each move determines the successful completion of the project. You need to create accountable structures in such a way that your team members will be able to complete the tasks assigned to them with the utmost quality. Also, you need to develop a work process after the submission of the tasks such that your team members will be able to add on or redo a part of the task if any changes are required and at the earliest possible. This is the best way to adapt to the agile working culture and deliver the best result.

4.2. Task Completion on Time

Time Management is pretty crucial, especially when working with your Virtual Team. This is due to the fact that you can not treat and proceed with the work as you’d carry out in a physical office. You need to assign the tasks for the week by breaking them down into chunks of tasks to be completed per day. And you need to ensure that there is an understanding among each of the members of the team that, given 24 hours, they need to record/submit the status of the task in a tool or spreadsheet. This way you can monitor the status of the tasks on a daily basis and if any issue arises, you can sort that out the next day itself and progress the workflow accordingly.

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5. Dos and Don’ts of Monitoring Virtual Teams

Though you might think that you are doing the right thing in the name of monitoring, you might end up demotivating the team’s spirit unknowingly. Here is a list of dos and don’ts:

Dos:

  1. Maintain a cordial relationship with the team members
  2. Have a general talk once in a week at least
  3. Have a little concern if they have a crucial personal situation
  4. Though your team is a Virtual Team, try to meet in person for team get together at least once in a month (except in case of a pandemic 😉 )
  5. Have incentives or scoring points for successful task completion without any glitches

Don’ts:

  1. Try to avoid micromanaging
  2. When a deadline is given, unless and until you have a valid input to give, don’t call. However, you could very subtly leave a message on a positive note like, ‘Hope all is going as per schedule. Please do ping if you need anything’. This will be a positive sign of encouragement to the members of the team.
  3. Try to avoid being harsh when something goes wrong. 
  4. Never compare one member with another member on the basis of performance
  5. Be friendly and easy to approach for any kind of issue.

The above-mentioned dos and don’ts will help you to monitor the work progress on a positive note.

6. Strategies to increase the Virtual Team’s Productivity

It is important that you set the right work environment even in the virtual space in order to expect productive results from your Virtual Team. Here is a list of strategies to ensure that your Virtual Team works productively:

  • Make sure that all the work-related tools available to your team 24×7
  • Have a flexible working style
  • Focus on the deliverables/task completed on time alone
  • Encourage your team by availing surprise goodies for their good performance
  • Show appreciation for their good work from time to time.  

The above-listed strategies will help you to increase your Virtual Teams’ productivity slow and steadily.

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Finally…

The importance of having an active Virtual Team onboard is being essentially realized of late. The technical advancements have enabled us to carry out work whenever and wherever. It is wise to embrace this flexibility to the fullest by having the above-discussed strategies in mind and carrying out the work accordingly. 

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