The #1 Misconception About Remote Work & Virtual Teams

Here at Virtual Gurus we have the opportunity to speak to, interact with and support hundreds of businesses across the country and across most industries.

The range of support that we provide ranges from Executive Assistance and personal support, all the way through to an entirely remote call centre and virtual office.

However, even though we connect businesses with their ideal virtual-support teams all day, every day, we still must help some businesses through a few misconceptions when it comes to working with them.

That’s why we’d like to address the most common misconception today; that managing a remote team will be too difficult, and it’s just simpler to have people come into an office.

But…is it really? Let’s explore.

Managing Remotely is Too Difficult

Often times the belief behind remote teams being difficult to manage stems from, “you don’t know what you don’t know.”

It’s still a surprising fact that many business owners haven’t actually worked remotely before themselves, so the idea that they can manage someone remotely is an unknown concept to them.

It can be difficult to picture what it looks like to hold virtual meetings, have spontaneous conversations, get a group of people to work well together when they are physically apart, or simply answer calls from customers, when you haven’t experienced it yourself.

While we can see where this initial belief might stem from, we can confidently say that managing a remote team is no more, or less, difficult that managing a team that is in person.

What it all comes down to is a small mindset shift, some solid processes, and a focused leadership style.

 

The Mindset Shift – You’re Doing it Already

When we have a conversation with a client about hiring a virtual team member, and they are expressing concern for how it will all work, we like to remind them that they most likely have a large portion of their business that is functioning ‘remotely’ already.

For example,

  • Let’s think about the clients that you speak to on the phone 90% of the time, instead of meeting in person.
  • Email is still a primary communication tool, used to speak with and relay information to members of the team (even if a team member sits 12 feet away at another desk).
  • Conference calls between offices, to and from vendors, or even as a screening mechanism when interviewing a potential new hire.

 

These are all current day examples of how businesses have a virtual component built into their day to day operations.

If we take this reality just one step further:

  • Does it really matter that everyone on the conference call is in their home office, as opposed to all sitting in different boardrooms?
  • Can you really tell that an email was sent while typing on a laptop in someone’s dining room, instead of a cubicle?
  • Customer service calls and tickets can be answered just as easily from a coffee shop as they can in a call centre, so why is there a need to physically watch someone doing it?

 

The Secret to Success is Process

When it comes right down to it, the success of a business will always depend on the strength and efficiency of its processes.

Whether a team is working together in an office, or remotely, the process through which a team accomplishes its goals needs to be clear and efficient if anything is going to get done.

In fact, we can all think of an example of when we’ve worked for an organization that had no clear processes or procedures in place, and despite the fact that everyone was physically together in the same space, confusion was the norm.

But, this lack of structure and clarity is easier to hide when you’re all together in the same space because you can simply tell people what needs to be done, instead of getting organized and communicating properly.

This can scare a lot of leaders because having a remote team forces them to take the time to get clear, efficient, and focused on their processes even before they feel ready to do so.

The best part is though, once you do build in that clarity, teams can work together in a way that doesn’t require a constant physical presence.

 

Focused Leadership

Now that we know most businesses already incorporate many aspects of virtual work into their day-to-day operations, and that clear processes are a foundational piece of running a successful business, all we have left is how the business is lead.

It’s no secret that leadership is important, however the ability to lead a remote or virtual team is crucial.

A few recommendations that we have for leaders, when it comes to successfully leading a virtual team, are:

  1. Make time to connect virtually with your teams in group, and one-on-one settings
  2. Develop processes that build in transparency and access to the information they need, when they need it
  3. Set clear expectations and hold people accountable
  4. Always seek frequent feedback from your teams and follow up as needed

 

Out of sight does not mean out of mind when it comes to your virtual teams, and it’s important to make the time to connect with your team no matter where they are.

 

The Status Quo is Losing Status

It is entirely possible to succeed with a virtual team (of course, we see this every day), and we encourage every business to start moving in this direction as soon as possible.

Ten years ago, it would have been reasonable to say that working remotely, or having a virtual team, was a trend… but this can’t be said today.

Remote teams and virtual work are here to stay and will only continue to grow – it’s the smart businesses that recognize this and take full advantage of it.

Not only does a virtual team make it possible to find exceptional talent, despite location, but the growth and insights that come from working in this way can far surpass trying to maintain the status quo with on-site teams.

So, the next time you have a need for additional support, or if you are ready to scale your business, consider building out virtually where you can; we’d love to show you how! Reach out to us for a free consultation and learn how we can help you, today and in the future, too!

 

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