11 Tips for Managing Virtual Teams
If you are the person who is not co-located with the team, have them all together in one room when you host meetings. And try to visit them as frequently as your budget will allow. When I ran a team based in New York from Atlanta, I came to town once per month and spent quality time with everyone, including sitting down and having lunch to talk about everything but work. Unfortunately, it's a little harder and more expensive now to get to India and the Philippines regularly!
2. Have a regular communication schedule.
Aside from vacation days, illness and the occasional conflict, establish a routine and stick to it. We all need some predictability so we can manage our time and structure actually helps us deal better with those inevitable unexpected projects. I send out project lists on Sundays or early Monday mornings—everyone knows they are coming and what to look for. Then we have a meeting to kick off the week and review the lists. It's simple, but it works.
You will have to manage your time wisely to allow time to communicate and organize the team's activities (see my blog post on time management). You may also have to change your hours to accommodate different times zones. Since our team came together, I start my day much earlier (yes, before 5:00 a.m. most days—ouch!), take a break when I can and extend it later because Marketing is working from about 3:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Central Time. It might take some experimenting to see what makes the most sense.
3. Provide insight on what you do.
Whenever we have group meetings, I try to share my weekly priorities. My role is to lead projects, meet deadlines and mentor but I also have my own projects. The rest of the Marketing Team doesn't get involved with new product development, public relations, internal communication and strategy development at this point, but these are big parts of my role. I think it is necessary to show everyone else how your time is spent beyond what they can see each day—that's what being a team is all about.