How To Transform Your Virtual Staff Into A Winning Team

5 Things I’ve Learned Leading a Virtual Team

One of the best ways to leverage our time is to find people who are willing to do things we’re not good at or things we should not be doing.

In order to do our best work, we have to be willing to spend more time doing our highest-value activities and find ways to reduce the amount of time we spend doing low-value activities.

As a business owner, low-value activities may include:

  • Doing administrative work such as checking emails, checking invoices, paying bills etc.
  • Booking travel.
  • Going to the post office.
  • Updating social media accounts.
  • Shopping for office supplies.

There are many more things that could be added to the list. One activity that is worth doing is to make note of all the activities we do during a typical week and how much time we spend doing them. Then we can calculate how much it’s costing us each week to do those activities and whether it would be more beneficial to hire others who could do those activities better and quicker than us.

This is where having a team is vitally important. In today’s world, there is no need to have staff members work in the same office or space as us. With all the tools available now, having a virtual team can be a much better and cheaper option for most businesses.

How to manage virtual teams

I’ve had a virtual team for a few years now, which has allowed me to delegate many things that were using up a lot of my time every week. Having a virtual team has also helped me provide better service and focus more on what I do best.

I’ve never met any of my virtual team members in person. All our interactions have been virtual, hence the term virtual staff. Having virtual staff brings about a number of challenges including:

  • Monitoring hours worked and quality of work being done.
  • Sharing of personal or business details such as login details for different accounts.
  • Monitoring performance and bringing the best out of them.
  • Keeping them engaged and doing what’s expected.
  • Ensuring good communication between every team member.

5 Things I’ve Learned Leading a Virtual Team

  1. Provide clear and explicit instructions. If we end up having team members from other countries, chances are English is not their first language. Therefore when giving instructions on what we want done, they have to be conveyed across in a simple manner along and what’s expected has to be also confirmed. The clearer our instructions, the less likely there will be mistakes made or have delays occur.
  2. Be flexible with priorities. Chances are virtual staff have other commitments or jobs, and they provide their services to earn additional income. Unless we are willing to employ full-time virtual staff, which is not something that’s recommended initially, we have to provide plenty of lead time for them to get tasks completed. There is usually a testing out phase as we get to understand how they work and their level of proficiency with completing tasks. We also have to accept that sometimes there will be delays with tasks getting done on time, and we have to manage that as needed.
  3. Give them ownership. It’s not advisable to micro-manage team members. People like to have autonomy and be part of decision-making processes. Asking for their input or ideas helps them to feel part of a team rather than being told what to do all the time. Oftentimes, as they are better skilled than us in the things they do, they can offer better ideas than we can.
  4. Use and provide the right tools. As all communication will be done virtually, having the right tools is critical. These can include video conferencing tools, messaging services, email, payment systems and other online services. It’s important to encourage all team members to use the tools available as required. As the person who has hired virtual staff, we must ensure that everyone is paid correctly and on time.
  5. Do not make it just about work. Just like managing an in-person team, the better we get to know team members such as their families, interests, hobbies, successes they’ve had and their goals, the more we can look for opportunities that can support them in their lives. After-all, they want to have a better life just like we do.

Where To Find Virtual staff

A quick search online will reveal many virtual staff providers based in countries such as India, Phillipines, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia along with many developed countries. Services such as Odesk and Fiverr are good services to check out initially.

Having a virtual team can be an important strategy for most businesses today. The key is to spend the time to identify where we need help and then find appropriate virtual staff. We should always start with one and add to our team over time, instead of hiring many staff members at once.

Action Step: Review where you are spending your time during a typical week and decide which activities can be delegated to a virtual staff member. Go online to search for virtual staff providers and take the necessary steps to find the right virtual staff.

Question: What is another important thing to consider when adding virtual staff members to your team?

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