In recent years, virtual teams have become the new normal. Leading a team spread across the globe can be tricky – but it is far from impossible. As with any business change, it is vital to understand the strengths, weaknesses, and challenges that come with it.

Leaders who have taken the initiative to understand these elements have seen a positive reaction within their teams – some would even argue that their teams are doing better in a remote environment. With that in mind, here is some advice on leading a virtual team.

Empathy

One tool that leaders should never forget is that of empathy. The times are trying right now – more than ever before. Remote work allows leaders to have more compassion and flexibility when handling employee concerns, schedules, and necessary workarounds.

Believe it or not, trust goes hand and hand with empathy. An employer or leader that fails to trust their employees in a virtual environment is less likely to succeed. Micromanagement and constant check-ins harm morale and productivity. 

Accountability

That isn’t to say that there shouldn’t be any form of accountability. Leaders need to ensure that employees are meeting (and following) deadlines critical to the company and their individual roles.

Accountability can also come in the form of providing employees accessible options for clocking in and out each day – making it easier for everyone to keep track of hours in a virtual setting.

Communication

Communication is essential in any business, but it is especially so when a team is working virtually. Management must create clear lines of communication, which include guidelines on how to reach out (for any reason) and video conference etiquette. Finally, don’t forget to keep the updates flowing – keeping employees in the loop isn’t a challenge once a system has been established.

Utilize Available Tools

These days there are dozens of tools specifically designed to help virtual teams connect, collaborate, and keep work flowing smoothly. It is critical to utilize these tools are much as possible.

Not only will it make work easier for the leader of a team, but it will help the team as a whole. Remember that these tools should be updated regularly, as technology changes rapidly.