The sudden transition from face-to-face working in the office to home office caused unforeseen changes and stress factors for many team members and managers. In addition to the technological requirements, such as a functioning Internet, suitable equipment and programs, virtual teamwork brings up some new challenges and aspects.
Although the management tasks remain the same when switching to virtual teamwork, the circumstances and aspects of management change. Every team member needs clear tasks, roles, goals and responsibilities. It is therefore an essential task to ensure transparency and clear rules that all team members know. At the same time, it is helpful to clarify expectations and guidelines for cooperation in the team. Team members need a lot of self-motivation and the ability to get results without anyone telling them what or how to do it. This means that as a manager, it is important to promote personal responsibility and motivation among employees as well as cooperation with one another.
Due to the spatial distance, reduced social contacts and a lack of informal exchange, there is an automatic change in communication. The focus is on various online media, in addition to virtual meetings, informal chat rooms such as WhatsApp groups or simply the phone. Communication without body language can lead to uncertainties and therefore to increased misunderstandings. Support the employees by asking more questions and clarify any uncertainties or doubts immediately. A brief, clarifying conversation on the phone can quickly resolve misunderstandings and at the same time convey appreciation. Pay attention to a positive tone and voice, which are given a higher priority in the virtual conversation. Especially when working together at a distance, it is important to strengthen communication, give and obtain even more feedback.
A functioning virtual collaboration requires particularly high levels of social competence and emotional intelligence. Managers need to find a balance between control and trust. At the same time, it is important to differentiate who in the team needs which leadership impulses under the current conditions. You are now particularly challenged to listen, to develop more sensitivity for your fellow human beings and to feel where the shoe pinches. For this purpose, it makes sense to pick up the phone and ask personally about your well-being. Because there is no visual control, it is important to learn to rely on your own intuition and to further develop your emotional competence. Get to know your employees even better in order to respond to their individual needs. The Golden Personality Profiler and accompanying Coaching support you in this.
Although some see the elimination of travel time to work as an advantage, not all employees enjoy working in the home office. For some, the spatial conditions at home or the family environment may make it difficult. Others, especially extraverted employees, prefer social contacts and informal exchange in the workplace. Individuals need ongoing support from their team members or managers. A shared office gives people a purpose or a mission. The informal exchange in the coffee kitchen, in the corridor or in passing is particularly important and promotes solidarity and a feeling of togetherness. If all team members work from home, this component is no longer applicable. For these reasons, it is advisable to have a room for informal exchange, e.g. to create a team chat room. You can also arrange more frequent and shorter online meetings, such as coffee check-ups or lunch together.
When leading at a distance, clear rules, well-developed communication, social competence and a culture of trust are critical to success.
As a virtual leader, it is your responsibility to create the culture of teamwork and to promote both personal responsibility and team spirit. One solution is to agree on the mission and goals both individually and with the team in order to motivate employees to work together. Now is the chance to anchor meaningfulness and new values in the job. The new era of work has begun, leading at a distance requires everyone to reposition themselves and the team.
I am looking forward to support you with your individual questions and challenges. I look forward to your contact.