The world is increasingly evolving, and this can be attributed to advances in technology. Companies are now opting for new ways to maximize the potential of talented employees. One such way to do so is hiring virtually. Virtual employment is becoming a norm in niches whose fundamental processes are not dependent on the physical presence of their workforce. Building and managing a virtual development team comes with its unique set of challenges and advantages to both the employer and the employee. To achieve ultimate success with virtual development teams, one needs to pay keen attention to a few important factors. I’ve listed our Top 5 tips below to keep top of mind.
Tip #1 – Hiring the Right People
The composition of the virtual team often requires a group of talented individuals. Similar to traditional physical hiring methods, one needs to conduct interviews to build an efficient team. One can post a few job vacancies and descriptions on freelancing websites to attract applications from freelance developers who typically work remotely. Further, it is advisable to select an employee with positive recommendations from the previous freelance job(s).
The financial advantage of building a virtual team is that one needs not offer full-time employment as most virtual freelancers work on an hourly or project basis. Always conduct a trial period to potential virtual employees by assigning short-term. Subsequently, the employer can then use the results and the potential employee’s conduct to determine if they are a good fit. Essentially, virtual employment opens up an employer to the world. Thus, one can source highly qualified individuals, but there is a lot of legwork to find the right talent.
Tip #2 – Project Management Tools
Project management tools are important when managing virtual teams. Examples of such tools include ActiveCollab which is a crucial tool because it allows employers to keep track of their projects, files, invoices, expenses, notes, among others. Ideally, such tools help to organize work processes. With such project management tools, it is possible to define requirements on the deliverables expected at the completion of each task. The employer can utilize video or text platforms to define such deliverables and allow employees to show progress, exchange information with team members, and for employers to assign tasks.
Tip #3 – Active Communication
Proper communication is among the core aspects of a successful virtual operation. The employer and team members need to be in consistent communication to ensure that they coordinate projects efficiently. The virtual development team can utilize a handy web communication tools to achieve success including emails, instant messaging platforms such as Skype, teleconferencing, virtual meetings, podcasts, screencast, and collaborative portals such as Wrike.
In addition, employers can sign up to unique and modern collaborative portals such as Appear, Slack, or Toptal to help manage teams. Typically, Toptal allows users to hire freelancers from a large pool of potential employees across the world. Also, Slack allows constant contact via chat where team members can collaborate to discuss certain topics. Appear is also a critical tool as it facilitates video chats and can even accommodate multiple members at once.
Collaborative portals such as Wrike and Trello are also ideal tools for virtual development teams. This is because they contain tools that enhance communication and task collaboration among members. With such portals, the employer can track their employees’ performance in real time as the portals require users to log in and switch on a time tracker. The portals then take regular screenshots of the employee’s screen and analyze activity in regards to mouse and keypad usage. This way, the employer pays the employee only for the work done.
Tip #4 – Regular Reviews
All types of jobs regularly require reviews or appraisals to assess the progress and performance of employees. A virtual development team manager needs to review employees continually to establish whether they are accomplishing their assigned duties. However, the challenge is that most virtual employees find it exasperating to submit weekly reports of their work, and also, the employer may find it hard to read reviews from all employees constantly.
Subsequently, the employer should work closely with the virtual team members to create targets. The targets are tasks that need to be accomplished in a specific way and within a particular timeframe. Upon expiry of the set deadline, one only needs to confirm whether the targets were accomplished, and afterward create new targets or resolve any pending issues in a project. Additionally, the team members can also fill in a status report that seeks to establish their specific tasks in the ongoing project and whether they have encountered problems during operation.
Tip #5 – Relationship Building
It is easy for virtual employees to feel like they are working alone with the absence of face-to-face human interactions. It is essential for a virtual development to formulate a cordial working relationship in spite of the distance barrier. Such relationships are established through consistent communication and trust among the members. Employers should seek to humanize the team by requesting team members to post their photos on their profiles and thus put a face to a name.
In conclusion, team members should cultivate trust among each other through honesty and diligence. Moreover, it is crucial to ensure that one meets deadlines and follows up with other members working on the same project to establish cohesive performance. Virtual team members should also ensure that they respect the differences between time zones and communicate during favorable working hours. Such conducive working environments allow members to forward any issues that arise during operations and find solutions to them.